Russia joins war on foot-and-mouth virus

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Russia joins war on foot-and-mouth virus From our Bureau 04mar01

BRUSSELS: The foot-and-mouth disease scare raced eastward when Russia joined Europe in throwing up defences against the dreaded animal virus, as Britain struggled to contain the epidemic.

The highly contagious disease has spread throughout Britain, with three new outbreaks reported for a total of at least 36, including Northern Ireland.

After the first case was confirmed in Northern Ireland yesterday, the neighboring Irish Republic found itself in the frontline of the battle to stave off the "sub-type 0" Asian strain of the virus.

Dublin went on a war footing. Prime Minister Bertie Ahern, calling the disease a "once-in-a-generation" threat to Ireland, dispatched more than 1000 troops and police to border crossings from the north, and ports and airports in an effort to stop the disease spreading. Even as Britain incinerated herds of livestock exposed to the disease, fears grew in the rest of Europe that animals may already have been contaminated by the rampant infection.

But no foot-and-mouth disease cases have yet been reported outside Britain. Russia slapped a blanket ban on all cattle and meat product imports from Britain, having already tightened control of imports from a number of other European counties through which British products may have passed.

The Austrian Government advised its nationals not to travel to Britain "unless absolutely necessary", until the current disease has cleared up.

Air travellers returning from Britain were made to tread on disinfected carpets. The crisis also hit sports events, with the cancellation of matches across Britain, including the rugby union Six Nations contest between Wales and Ireland in Cardiff.

Most sports fixtures in Ireland this weekend have been called off to minimise the risk of spreading the disease, frequently carried on clothing, footwear and vehicles.

Portugal, whose city of Porto will host a UEFA Cup quarter-final match with Liverpool early next week, warned some 5000 British fans expected their footwear would be disinfected on arrival.

A European Commission spokesman, meanwhile, said no decision had been made for the mass vaccination of EU herds against the disease.

"This would only be the worst-case scenario," he said.

"So far, scientists and veterinarians say at this stage it's not necessary. Vaccination would only be the very, very last step to take."

http://news.com.au/common/story_page/0,4057,1769103%255E401,00.html

-- Martin Thompson (mthom1927@aol.com), March 03, 2001

Answers

Europe Scrambles to Contain Foot-and-Mouth Disease Saturday, March 3, 2001 By Kim Gamel

STOCKHOLM, Sweden Disinfected shoes. Saunas for travelers. Confiscated sandwiches.

The measures health officials are taking against the foot-and-mouth virus may seem odd or drastic, but the disease is so potentially devastating to animals, no one in Europe wants to take any chances.

"Maybe it's better to be a little bit too cautious in this situation," says Anders Engvall of the Swedish Veterinary Institute.

Experts say it is extremely difficult to contain an outbreak of foot and mouth, a highly contagious virus that infects cloven-hoofed animals like sheep, cows and pigs. It almost never infects humans.

The latest outbreak was first detected at a slaughterhouse near London last week, and already thousands of British-exported animals have been destroyed.

The health alert prompted the cancellation of sports events, animal shows and even Dublin's St. Patrick's Day parade. In Scotland, the world's first cloned sheep, named Dolly, was placed in quarantine for her safety.

Belgium on Saturday banned the export of all farm animals after reporting a suspected outbreak of the disease on a farm in the west. If confirmed, it would be the first confirmed case of the virus on the European continent since foot-and-mouth was first reported in Britain last week.

The government also halted all animal transports for three days and imposed a buffer zone around the suspected farm, some 60 miles west of Brussels, where blisters were found on the mouths of three pigs imported from Britain. Workers destroyed 323 pigs there early Saturday.

The fact that foot-and-mouth can be contracted by breathing and can survive for lengthy periods on boots and clothing has led to a host of sudden travel restrictions.

Portugal is requiring passengers arriving from the United Kingdom to disinfect their shoes in a washbasin upon arrival at any airport or port.

In Finland, authorities have instructed people visiting England to keep away from farms. If that's unavoidable, they should "wash very carefully in the sauna" on their return home.

And Swedish farmers are being encouraged to avoid unnecessary visitors or at least make sure their clothing is disinfected until the situation is brought under control.

"We had this disease in Sweden in 1966, and we remember it's awful," Ingemar Nordell of the Skaane dairy said. "But we have a lot of young farmers in Sweden that haven't been through it and they need to be aware."

German airports have placed food entering from Britain anything containing meat or dairy products under suspicion as a possible carrier. Customs officers were even confiscating uneaten sandwiches from passengers.

A British church organ and the container it was shipped in were disinfected upon arrival Wednesday in a rural Norwegian town.

A local veterinarian said the $248,000 organ probably was virus-free, but Norwegians weren't taking any chances because it had been trucked through the English countryside.

France's estimated 4 million-member Muslim community faced a potential shortage of sacrificial lambs for the Eid al-Adha holiday after the government said it would destroy more than 50,000 sheep many of them specially imported for the holiday. Muslim butchers in Britain faced the same problem.

"It's a difficult year, and we must accept that and keep our calm," Dalil Boubakeur, head of the Mosque of Paris, said. "If people cannot carry out the sacrifice, they should make a gesture to the poor."

In French ports, authorities sprayed the tires of arriving trucks with disinfectant.

Hunters in southeastern Russia randomly shot wild rams straying across the border from Mongolia to find out if any were infected, emergency official Eduard Popov was quoted as saying by news agency ITAR-Tass on Friday. Russia also imposed a ban on all meat products from Britain.

Spain was refraining from foot baths of water and bleach at airports, but it did ban cattle fairs, auctions and horse shows.

http://www.foxnews.com/world/030301/uk_livestock.sml



-- Martin Thompson (mthom1927@aol.com), March 03, 2001.


Nando Times

Livestock disease found in British park where thousands of animals graze

The Associated Press

LONDON (March 4, 2001 10:17 a.m. EST http://www.nandotimes.com) - Foot-and-mouth disease has turned up in a huge national park in southwest England, agriculture officials said Sunday, raising fears that the thousands of animals that graze there will spread the ailment to wildlife.

Nearly 60 separate outbreaks of the highly contagious livestock disease have been reported in Britain and Northern Ireland, and about 45,000 animals - sheep, cows and pigs - have been destroyed in an effort to stop the spread of the ailment.

The outbreak in the Dartmoor National Park was found at a tenant farm inside the sprawling moor in Devon, in southwest England. The National Farmers Union called the spread of the disease to the park - where about 46,000 cattle and sheep graze - a "nightmare scenario."

Hikers had already been told to stay off the moor.

Since the first cases were discovered Feb. 19 at a slaughterhouse in southern England, authorities have banned exports of British milk, meat and live animals. At outbreak sites, herds are being destroyed, with pyres of carcasses burning around the clock.

The first suspected cases were reported in continental Europe last week, with the discovery of blisters - one of the telltale symptoms - on the snouts of three pigs in northern Belgium. Authorities immediately created a buffer zone around the suspect farm and imposed a three-day ban on transport of all farm animals in Belgium.

The livestock ailment, which poses no danger to humans, has already dealt a heavy blow to British farmers, and could do the same to their counterparts elsewhere in Europe if the outbreak spreads.

It is extremely difficult to contain an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease, which infects cloven-hoofed animals like sheep, cows and pigs. The virus can be carried for miles by the wind, people, clothes or cars, surviving for lengthy periods on boots and clothing. It can also be spread by contaminated hay, water and manure.

The outbreak has triggered cancellations of scores of sporting events and other large gatherings. Hundreds of parks, zoos, nature preserves and countryside trails in Britain have been closed.

-- Rachel Gibson (rgibson@hotmail.com), March 04, 2001.


BBC

Sunday, 4 March, 2001, 13:49 GMT Foot-and-mouth suspected in Denmark

European health authorities fear the highly-infectious disease Another case of suspected foot-and-mouth disease has emerged in mainland Europe, as the authorities in north-west Denmark placed a farm under quarantine.

However, the Danish news agency Ritzau said preliminary test results have showed no trace of the disease.

A cow from a farm near Lemvig had blisters on its tongue, but veterinary officials said it showed no other symptoms of the disease, which has been found on more than 50 farms and abattoirs in the UK in the last two weeks.

The cow tested negatively in a preliminary test on Saturday, but a definitive result was not expected until Monday evening, Ritzau said.

The Danish Food Administration has toughened hygiene regulations, temporarily banning all private food imports and limiting visits to cattle farms.

Belgian and French suspects

The authorities in Belgium and France reported suspected cases on Saturday. The UK remains the only country in western Europe to have confirmed cases of the infection.

More than 45,000 animals have been slaughtered and incinerated in the UK and government vets are trying to trace another 70,000 they think may have been infected.

Both France and Belgium have also announced a cull of animals which have either been imported from the UK or have come into contact with British animals.

Ireland, meanwhile, has deployed thousands of soldiers along the border with Northern Ireland in an attempt to prevent the spread of the outbreak.

The European Union has said there is no need to proceed to a mass vaccination programme.

European measures

Countries around Europe have, however, been steadily ratcheting up their emergency response.

Germany has ordered the immediate destruction of all sheep and goats imported from the UK in the last four weeks.

Spain has banned all livestock fairs and incinerated hundreds of British pigs.

It has also issued guidelines on cleaning and disinfecting of vehicles and the confiscation and destruction of food and waste from the UK.

Russia has imposed a blanket ban on all meat products from Britain.

The Austrian Government has advised its nationals to avoid travelling to Britain "unless absolutely necessary".

-- Rachel Gibson (rgibson@hotmail.com), March 04, 2001.


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