The Brazilian government has been racing to limit the outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) in its top beef exporting state in Mato Grosso do Sul, appointing a task force to pinpoint its origin and prevent it spreading.

“Every measure has been taken to isolate the outbreak,” said agriculture minister Roberto Rodrigues, fearing losses of €1bn (US$1.2bn) to the world’s largest beef export industry.

His government has banned exports from slaughterhouses in five municipalities, including the three with FMD – Eldorado, Japorã and Mundo Novo – about which the Office International des Épizooties (OIE) has issued two new reports. These detail 172 cases on nine farms, with 5,885 susceptible cattle likely to be destroyed.

The OIE said “stamping out (was) in progress”, although “weather conditions (heavy rain) are hampering the culling and destruction of animals”.

Meanwhile, more than 30 countries, including the European Union (EU), have banned Brazilian beef, at least from Mato Grosso do Sul state, in the southwest.