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BBC NI's agricultural correspondent Martin Cassidy
"A number of animals are displaying lesions consistent with foot-and-mouth"
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Saturday, 14 April, 2001, 17:01 GMT 18:01 UK
Fears of third NI outbreak
Waiting: An official checks cattle to be culled at  Ardboe
Waiting: An official checks cattle to be culled at Ardboe
Northern Ireland's agriculture minister Brid Rodgers has confirmed the discovery of another hot suspect case of foot-and-mouth disease in the province.

The suspect case in County Antrim comes less than 24 hours after secondary tests on a dairy herd at Ardboe in County Tyrone proved positive.

More than 4,000 animals are being slaughtered in the vicinity of the Tyrone farm where the province's second outbreak of the disease occurred.

We will just have to get through this and pick up the pieces afterwards

Eileen Donnelly

However, 40 cattle and 200 sheep at the suspect case in Cushendall are also being destroyed in a precautionary cull.

That farm has been cordoned off and tests are being carried out on animals which are displaying lesions consistent with the virus.

A second case of the livestock disease in the province led to the reimposition of a European Union ban on meat and dairy exports.

The only other case was confirmed on 1 March on a farm at Meigh in south Armagh, nearly 50 miles away from the second case.

Mrs Rodgers said the latest outbreak was a huge setback for the whole agricultural industry in Northern Ireland.

"It comes just at a time when our hopes were high that we might have escaped this dreadful scourge," she said on Saturday.
Brid Rodgers:
Brid Rodgers: "Huge setback for industry"

Mrs Rodgers said all pigs within a three kilometre zone and all sheep and cattle in a one kilometre zone would be slaughtered.

"As far as disposal of carcasses of the slaughtered animals is concerned, all those from the infected farm will be incinerated on the site.

"I am looking at the options for disposal of the other carcasses at present."

Initial test results from the Cookstown herd had been negative, but Mrs Rodgers said officials from her department were now viewing it as "a positive case".

The slaughter of animals at two outfarms began on Friday night, and the carcasses are being burned.

Samples from these animals will be sent to Pirbright Laboratory for analysis.

The daughter of Paddy Donnelly, the farmer at the centre of the latest outbreak, said the family were distraught.

Paddy Donnelly disinfects his boots before leaving his farm
Paddy Donnelly disinfects his boots before leaving his farm

Eileen Donnelly said they were horrified about the consequences for neighbouring farms.

"We are a very close knit community, we'll just have to get through this and pick up the pieces afterwards," she said.

President of the Ulster Farmers' Union Douglas Rowe said he was "very, very disappointed" by the news.

He said the province had now lost its disease-free regionalisation status for at least the next 30 days, or longer if there were further cases.

"Whether we can work to have two regions in Northern Ireland or a new region in this area, we'll all have to go on trial," he said.

An emergency meeting of the Northern Ireland Executive is being held on Monday to discuss the crisis.

It was called by first and deputy first ministers, David Trimble and Seamus Mallon.

Meanwhile, vets from the Department of Agriculture have said they are mystified as to how the virus got to the Arboe area.

They are appealing for information which could help them trace the source of the infection.

The Department of Agriculture can be contacted on its helpline numbers on 02890 524279 or 02890 524590 between 0830 - 2100 GMT.

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See also:

13 Mar 01 | Northern Ireland
'Negative' result on suspect NI sheep
14 Apr 01 | Northern Ireland
Shock at new outbreak
13 Apr 01 | Northern Ireland
Irish sport left reeling
13 Apr 01 | Scotland
Foot-and-mouth spreads further
12 Apr 01 | UK
Crunch weekend for tourism
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