Traces of foot and mouth virus have been found in France amongst slaughtered livestock as fears grow that the contagious disease may now have spread to continental Europe.
Britain’s two-week-old foot-and-mouth crisis showed no signs of abating with confirmed cases standing at 70 on Monday afternoon.
France’s Agriculture Ministry said the positive results of blood tests on two dead sheep indicated that they had been in contact with the virus. Two cows in Cher, central France had also shown symptoms of the disease but actual cases of foot and mouth have not been confirmed in either the cattle or sheep. Results of tests on the cattle would be available later today.
Suspicious cases have been identified at nine farms in France, dotted throughout a wide area of the northern half of France in the areas of Mayenne, Cher, Oise, Seine Saint-Denis and Vienne.
France’s agriculture minister, Jean Glavany will implement measures to cordon off suspect areas, destroy livestock and place a restriction on movement of livestock from Tuesday. France has also banned the export of all animals at risk from foot and mouth disease for 15 days in an attempt to stop the spread of the disease.
Belgium set up a 12-mile exclusion zone around a suspect farm in the community of Diksmuide and all livestock movement was banned after preliminary tests on three British-origin pigs at the farm showed symptoms of the disease. Tests for the disease came up negative.
In Denmark, the Danish Food and Agriculture Ministry said it would know on Monday whether the disease had been found there. Results of a second test on a cow in western Denmark suspected of contracting foot-and-mouth were due after an initial test proved negative.
The UK remains the only country in western Europe where vets have confirmed cases of the infection. A flood of new cases were confirmed at weekend including cases in Devon (including the vast pastures of Dartmoor) and Cornwall in the southwest of England. So far more than 50,000 animals have been slaughtered in Britain.
Measures are now in place for animal meat to enter the human food chains.
Officials at the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAFF) spent the weekend dealing with hundreds of applications for temporary movement licences that allow Britain’s livestock industry to start moving animals for slaughter from unaffected areas.
just-food.com published a feature on foot and mouth. To read it, click here.