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[Nettime-bold] Europe alarmed by spread of virus-"" from cnn-guide

Europe alarmed by spread of virus

                        March 13, 2001
                        Web posted at: 2:41 PM EST (1941 GMT)

                        PARIS, France -- Farmers across Europe
                        are on high alert following the
                        confirmation of the first case of
                        foot-and-mouth disease on the mainland
                        -- in France.

                        As French officials revealed they were
                        investigating another three suspected
                        cases, the Italian Government announced
                        the slaughter of a flock of sheep which
                        showed signs of the virus.

                        The European Union veterinary committee banned
exports of cloven-hoofed
                        livestock from France for two weeks and Germany
and Belgium stepped up
                        emergency measures to try to prevent the spread
of the highly-contagious
                        livestock disease.

                        In London, British agriculture officials
reported more outbreaks, saying the
                        number of confirmed cases had risen to 200.

                        European farmers had their worst fears confirmed

                        on Tuesday when the French Ministry of
                        Agriculture said two cows in the province of
                        Mayenne, in the north-west, had tested positive

                        The afflicted herd was close to a farm which had

                        imported sheep from Britain and had been under

                        The ministry said about 20,000 sheep brought in
                        from the UK shortly before the onset of the
                        outbreak there had been distributed to 20
                        across France. Three suspected cases, involving
                        sheep, are being investigated in the

                        Belgium responded by closing its borders to
                        imports of cattle, sheep, pigs and goats from

                        Germany warned tourists returning from France
                        not to bring back any food, describing the
                        situation as "very, very serious."

                        The German authorities -- who have not
                        experienced foot-and-mouth disease since 1988
                        --are checking whether any animals have recently

                        been imported from the French area now known
                        to be infected.

                        The alert in Italy was sparked by the discovery
                        possible foot-and-mouth symptoms in sheep at a
                        slaughterhouse in the central province of

                        Health officials said the animals were among
                        nearly 400 imported from France. The entire
                        flock was destroyed on Tuesday as a precaution.
                        The results of tests carried out on the sheep
                        expected on Wednesday.

                        Meeting in Brussels, the EU committee also
halted exports of milk, meat and
                        meat products from the Mayenne and Orne
departments of northwest France
                        where the case was detected.

                        They drew some comfort from the fact that the
affected farm in France was next
                        to one which had imported animals from Britain.

                        "It's easy to trace where it came from. As long
as the traceability link can be
                        established, it's a good base on which to found
an appropriate decision," said
                        Beate Gminder, spokeswoman for EU Food Safety
Commissioner David Byrne.

                        Foot-and-mouth disease is difficult to contain
because it is so contagious. It can
                        be carried by birds or on the air.

                        The virus is harmless to humans and does not
even kill most of the animals it
                        infects but it destroys their economic value,
which is why it causes such panic
                        among farmers.

                        The UK Government admitted on Tuesday it was
proving difficult to dispose of
                        the carcasses of animals killed in an attempt to
stop the outbreak spreading.

                        More than 120,000 have already been slaughtered,
with another 50,000
                        earmarked for destruction. Agriculture Minister
Nick Brown said up to 500,000
                        sheep, due to start lambing, may also have to be

                        He said bringing in soldiers to shoot animals
was being considered but added that
                        was "not a route that one would want to take."

                        Brown also expressed sympathy for French

                        "I deeply regret what has happened in France ...
I am certain that the French
                        Government are taking the correct actions to
control the disease just as we are
                        doing here," he said.

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