CAIRO, March 29 (UPI) -- Authorities in Egypt say foot-and-mouth disease has hit nearly 100,000 head of cattle and could threaten the entire Middle East and North Africa region.
The head of Egypt's central quarantine service said 9,022 of the affected cows had died since the outbreak started in February, Middle East Online reported Wednesday.
Essam Abdel Shakur said the highest rate of infection is in the Nile Delta region.
The U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization said it was working with the Egyptian government to contain the disease, which could seriously threaten food security in the region.
Although foot-and-mouth disease has been present in Egypt for many years, "this is an entirely new introduction of a virus strain known as SAT2, and livestock have no immune protection against it," the FAO reported.
The outbreak threatens as many as 6.3 million head of cattle and buffalo and 7.5 million sheep and goats in Egypt, the FAO said.