The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has instructed localities to take measures to prevent and handle foot-and-mouth disease which has reappeared in five central provinces.

The disease has affected more than 1,300 domestic animals, mainly cattle, buffalo and pigs, in the provinces of Ha Tinh, Quang Tri, Thanh Hoa, Nghe An and Quang Nam.

Ha Tinh has been the hardest hit, with nearly 800 animals in 31 communes infected since August this year.

Deputy chairman of the provincial People's Committee Le Dinh Son said recent floods were to blame for the rapid spread of the disease.

"Floods swept away dead animals that were infected with the virus and transmitted it to other livestock," he said.

Poor management and slow response to the disease by local authorities as well as the lack of public awareness had also led to the outbreak, he added.

Authorities in communes such as Cam Hung, Cam Thinh and Cam Son were criticised for being ignorant and hiding fresh outbreaks.

Agriculture Deputy Minister Le Van Tam said the outbreak in Ha Tinh could spread to surrounding localities unless proper measures were taken to control it.

The virus could travel rapidly and cause great damage, he warned.

Ha Tinh has vaccinated animals in affected areas and set up check points to prevent infected animals from being transported.

The ministry plans to send 200,000 doses of vaccine to Ha Tinh, Quang Tri, Da Nang, Nghe An and Thua Thien-Hue.-VNA