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Fair Use Act Quotation, for research purposes only Dutch Confirm Foot-And-Mouth Cases
AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - The Netherlands confirmed its first cases of foot-and-mouth disease on Wednesday as fears grew that the livestock plague that is devastating British farms is taking hold in continental Europe.
The European Commission at once said it would propose a ban on the export from the Netherlands of livestock susceptible to foot-and-mouth.
The Commission would also ask its chief veterinary officers to ban untreated milk, meat and meat products from the region hit by the outbreak in measures similar to those applied to France, EU officials said.
The new outbreak at a farm in the eastern part of the Netherlands made the country the second on the continent after France to be hit by the highly infectious disease.
All farm animals in the vicinity of the Dutch outbreak at the city of Olst, where four cases were confirmed, and at two other locations where the disease is suspected were due to be destroyed.
British vets on Tuesday reported the largest number of new cases of foot-and-mouth disease for a single day since the crisis began a month ago.
More than 220,000 animals have been slaughtered in Britain and a further 90,000 are due to be killed. The government also wants to kill hundreds of thousands of apparently healthy animals to stem the epidemic.
Prime Minister Tony Blair maintains the outbreak is under control, but a big jump of 46 new cases on Tuesday, taking the total to 395, suggested the virus remained rampant.
Across the Atlantic, the U.S. Department of Agriculture denied any cases had been detected in the United States after a rumor that the infection had been found in Idaho cattle.
U.S. inspections for foot-and-mouth disease have been stepped up since the disease hit British and Argentine herds.
The Dutch government said it had re-introduced a ban on exports and imports of animals susceptible to foot-and-mouth and had forbidden the movement of animals inside the country.
Foot-and-mouth afflicts cloven-hoofed animals such as pigs, sheep and cattle, causing severe weight loss and reduced milk supply. It is not harmful to humans.
FRENCH REMAIN WARY
French Agriculture Minister Jean Glavany said France felt increasingly close to controlling its outbreak but remained at risk because of its proximity to Britain.
"Every day that passes reassures us, but it is too early to cry victory," Glavany told the daily Le Figaro in an interview published on Wednesday.
"But with so many new sites per day over (in Britain), which means on our doorstep, the risk remains great: wind, thousands of tourists or trucks which cross the Channel every day can carry the virus to us."
European Union veterinary experts extended their ban on British livestock and meat exports until April 4, but agreed to relax curbs on French livestock exports and meat sales next week provided there were no new outbreaks.
In Argentina, authorities said they had found 25 cases of foot-and-mouth and 28 more suspect cases and would probably vaccinate the entire cattle herd against the infectious disease.
Argentina, the world's number five beef exporter, has been banned from sending beef to a growing list of countries after its prized disease-free status was revoked.
BLAIR SLIPS IN POLL
Blair saw the first sign of a voter backlash over the crisis, with an opinion poll showing 52 percent of Britons opposed his widely tipped plan to call a May 3 election.
The poll also showed his Labor Party's lead over the opposition Conservatives had fallen from 15 points to nine since the crisis began a month ago.
Until now Blair has enjoyed opinion poll leads of 20 points and more, making a May 3 election highly attractive as he aims to secure a second term with another big parliamentary majority.
The Conservatives and farmers' leaders have branded Blair insensitive for pursuing plans for an election at a time when foot-and-mouth is ravaging Britain's countryside, particularly as his present term does not run out until May next year.
Blair, worried that the epidemic is keeping tourists away, sent in troops on Tuesday to help tackle the virus and launched a global charm offensive to reassure potential visitors.
Around 200 soldiers began work in the south west county of Devon and in Cumbria in the northwest to help cope with the slaughter and disposal of tens of thousands of animals.
Blair's spokesman said troops were helping only with the planning and logistics of the mass cull, not killing animals.
-- (email@example.com), March 21, 2001
Some good news for you: apparently Israelis and Palestinians are co-operating on a vaccination program for sheeep in an effort to prevent the disease from doing harm on the West Bank. Go figure.
Wed Mar 21, 2:05 pm
Netherlands reports first foot-and-mouth cases
Foot-and-mouth disease continued its grim march across Europe Wednesday, as the Netherlands became the second continental country infected with the highly-contagious virus.
The government immediately reinstated a ban on transporting livestock across the country after four cows from the eastern town of Olst tested positive for the disease.
Authorities destroyed the cows along with the rest of the 60-head herd, and slapped a quarantine on the area.
Foot-and-mouth is not harmful to humans but causes sickness and weight loss to animals such as pigs, sheep and cattle.
Dutch farmers already have slaughtered thousands of cattle, sheep, goats and deer imported from Britain and France as a precaution.
RELATED STORY: Foot-and-mouth fears hit Canadian tourism industry
In France, six farms remain under quarantine after the country's first cases were discovered March 13.
In Britain the tally has risen to almost 400 cases. The government says so far about 223,000 animals have been killed and about 125,000 others are marked for destruction.
FROM MARCH 20, 2001 : British army to help contain foot-and-mouth outbreak FROM MARCH 13, 2001: Canada bans EU products as foot-and-mouth spreads
Westminster has pledged to step up the process of destroying infected animals. On Wednesday it announced a rural compensation package including tax breaks for suffering farmers and rural businesses. The government also compensates farmers at market value for lost livestock.
-- Rachel Gibson (firstname.lastname@example.org), March 21, 2001.