Veterinary Services: Protecting Human and Animal Health Through Healthy Animalsin the
Bedouin Flocks
Ellis Gross, VMD, MPH
District Veterinary Officer, Beer Sheva, Israel
Veterinary Services of the Ministry of Agriculture is the body empowered by law to control and eradicate animal diseases that can cause extensive financial loss in food producing animals, as well as those diseases that are transmitted from animals or their products (milk or meat) to humans. It also controls the use of drugs and chemicals in the animal industry. This government agency works in cooperation with other bodies in the Ministry of Agriculture and other agencies, such as the Ministries of Health and Environment to achieve these goals. Veterinary Services has several major divisions. Of these, two of them—veterinary field services and the laboratory services located in Beit Dagan—provide the services that the animal-owning public deals with.
Veterinary field services does what its name implies; it provides services in the field, i.e., it goes to the herds and flocks. The laboratory provides diagnostic services to herd and flock owners to ascertain causes of disease and death in animals, examines plants and feed to assure their quality and that certain substances are absent or are at acceptable levels in these products. In addition, the laboratory assures the quality of drugs and animal vaccines.
The field services carries out its mission in several ways: vaccination against certain diseases, regulation of animal movement, testing of animals and their products and (along with the laboratory services) diagnosis of diseases. The field services is divided into eight district offices to cover the whole country. All offices and the veterinarians provide similar services to the animal production industry. This includes kibbutzim, moshavim and ranches. However, the Beer Sheva district is unique in that it serves the Bedouin population. This population is different from other population groups in the country, including the Bedouin in the north in that:

1. The population and animals are scattered over a wide geographical area;
2. Flocks are sent to graze for up to eight months annually in regions that can be more than 50 km from their owner’s home.
3. During the grazing season, herds are often mixed together, either intentionally or unintentionally, causing potential spread of disease;
4. Although the absolute number of registered flocks is about 1,500, consisting of approximately 250,000 sheep (the maximum number of animals that the Negev grazing areas can sustain), there are several thousands of “backyard” flocks consisting from 2-3 sheep to 100 sheep and goats that can serve as a source of communicable disease. Some Bedouin also operate feedlots where lambs are fattened for slaughter. We estimate that the Bedouin animal population in the Negev consists of about 300,000 breeding sheep, at least 50,000 goats and several thousand cattle and camels.

In any human or animal population, there are several factors that influence the spread of disease. In order to enhance understanding of the problem of disease control, a few will be mentioned that have implications for the Bedouin herds.

1. Vaccination. Vaccination against certain diseases will protect a high percentage of those vaccinated for a certain amount of time. For example,
vaccination of sheep against foot-and-mouth disease will provide protection for about a year, while other vaccines may protect for up to several years.
2. Build-up of susceptible unvaccinated animals. With 300,000 breeding sheep among the Bedouin in the Negev, at least 300,000 lambs are born annually. Most of the males and some females will be slaughtered for meat at about six months of age. The remainder of the females will be kept for breeding, replacing older females and increasing flock size. From birth until slaughter, these animals if not vaccinated provide a focus of susceptibility to disease.
3. Movement of animals. Bedouin sheep graze away from the permanent housing location, mixing with other flocks, commencing with sheep being taken out of one flock and being put into another—all increase the chances of exposure to infectious diseases.
4. Nearby population of unvaccinated and possible infected animals. Flocks of the surrounding political entities have unknown vaccination status. Borders are not hermetically sealed and the movement of animals, either intentionally or unintentionally, increase the risk of the spread of diseases.

Having mentioned several factors that influence the spread of disease, the relationship between veterinary services and Bedouin animal owners will be reviewed. Current government policy requires that sheep, for example, be vaccinated against specific diseases. At the time of writing, policy states that all sheep must be vaccinated against foot-and-mouth disease (FMD), pestes des petites ruminants, sheep pox, and the females against brucellosis. FMD may be only slightly symptomatic in sheep, but devastates milk and meat production in cattle, pestes des petites ruminants and pox cause high mortality in sheep, while brucellosis causes abortions in sheep and cattle and serious disease in humans. The vaccine policy is enforced by the following measures.
When an animal is given its primary set of vaccinations, it is ear-tagged with a government plastic marker. Vaccination and ear tagging are done only by Veterinary Services veterinarians or technicians. In addition to the requirement to vaccinate and ear tag young animals, older animals are required to be annually vaccinated against certain diseases.
Another complimentary method of disease control is requiring permits for all animal movements, including to slaughterhouses and markets. The permits are given only for vaccinated animals from areas free from specific diseases. If a specific disease is diagnosed in a defined area, movement of animals is stopped, and animals in the area might need to be revaccinated; they may be slaughtered, or in the case of a newly diagnosed disease that the animals have not been vaccinated against and for which a vaccine exists, animals may be vaccinated or a quarantine with no subsequent actions may be enforced until the disease ceases.
In order to vaccinate flocks, to receive permits or to receive help, animal owners must go to the district office. Arrangements are made for time and place of vaccination, and the owner is given a bill for the vaccinations which can be paid at the post office. The service is provided at a nominal price (currently 9.95 NIS, about $1.25) for vaccination against four different infectious diseases. Permits for movement of sheep are given free of charge. Permits may be denied if a specific disease entity is found near the source of the sheep or in the area to which they plan to go.
The district veterinary office does not provide ambulatory services to the flocks. Surgeries, obstetrical and routine treatments are done by private practitioners. However, in the face of an outbreak, emergency treatments will be prescribed and samples taken. Laboratory samples will be sent to the appropriate laboratory, often free of charge to the owner.
In summary, the Veterinary Services provide an effective means of preventing widespread outbreaks of virulent diseases among the food-animal population in the country. Present measures include vaccination, which is done at a price relatively small to the value of the livestock, enforcing quarantine and animal movements, and providing efficient diagnostic measures and advise.

רקוב הדש תשרדמל תורומש תויוכזה לכ
35 רפסמ ,"םיוודבה אשונב תומישר" תרבוחמ קלח אוה הז רמאמ
2003 תנשב רואל האצי תרבוחה