The foot-and-mouth disease has stricken 28 cities and provinces across Vietnam, infecting some 22, 500 pigs and cattle, an official said Tuesday.
The disease has hit 221 communes in 10 northern localities, nine central ones, five central highlands ones, four southern ones, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Cao Duc Phat said on the sidelines of a one-day meeting held by the ministry to seek measures for controlling the disease.
"The current situation is very serious, and if we don't take drastic measures to combat and prevent the disease, it may become pandemic," he said.
Vietnam is intensifying control over cattle transport and trade in the affected areas, surveillance of the disease and vaccination of healthy animals, he said.
The government, as of Monday afternoon, has offered some 800, 000 doses of vaccines free of charge to some poor localities. The government also asked raisers to cull ill animals to prevent the spread of the disease, he said.
"We have proposed the government offer financial assistance of 70 percent of value of each cattle culled. Specifically, 10,000 Vietnamese dong (VND) (60 U.S. cents) per kilogram of a pig culled and 15,000 VND (90 cents) per kilogram of a bull or a buffalo."
Vietnam, home to 28 million pigs and 7 million buffaloes and bulls, is striving to totally control the disease in 2010, Phat said.
By Monday, the foot-and-mouth disease has hit 219 communes of 27 cities and provinces nationwide, affecting nearly 9,300 bulls and buffaloes, and roughly 12,500 pigs, Nguyen Van Thong, vice head of the ministry's Department of Animal Health, told Xinhua.