ISLAMABAD (APP) - The United States and Pakistan are working together to fight foot and mouth disease, which is estimated to cause $82 million in economic damage to rural Pakistani families every year. The United Stated Department of Agriculture (USDA), in partnership with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation and the Government of Pakistan, is supporting this effort with a comprehensive $9 million programme to provide training and equipment to researchers, veterinarians and epidemiologists throughout Pakistan. Foot and mouth disease causes significant damage to the Pakistani livestock population and to the farmers who depend on them for their livelihood, said David Wolf, Senior Agriculture Attach at the US Embassy in Islamabad on Tuesday. This training will allow Pakistani scientists to use the latest technologies and treatments to fight against this disease all around the country. The USDA is proud to be their partner in that effort. The inaugural session this week at the National Veterinary Laboratories in Islamabad brought together 45 Pakistani scientists and veterinarians from federal and provincial agencies and universities. Over the course of four days, scientists from the USDA and the University of California at Davis will hold seminars on epidemiology, new diagnosis methods, response to outbreaks and disease control measures. This programmes will continue over the coming years as trainees of the programme will partner with provincial governments, universities and farmers to develop and deploy vaccines to inoculate livestock. Foot and mouth disease is one of the most contagious and economically devastating viral diseases in the world. It causes a high rate of sickness in cattle, buffalo, sheep and goats. Most affected animals recover, but the disease leaves them debilitated and causes severe loss in the production of meat and milk. It is estimated that there are 66 million cattle and buffalo in Pakistan and one out of four families depend on livestock for their livelihood.