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Tuesday, 26 June, 2001, 09:23 GMT 10:23 UK
Vets test for virus on Beacons

Vets are screening hundreds of sheep grazing on the Brecon Beacons for signs of foot-and-mouth.

The decision on Monday followed confirmation of the disease on a farm at Libanus, near Brecon.

Government vets have the task of checking whether the virus has spread to10,000 animals grazing on common land.

foot and mouth control centre map
The picture of cases shows a cluster round Brecon
Some of the sheep from Modrydd Farm were put out for grazing five weeks ago and it is hoped these animals have now passed the incubation period for the disease.

Foot-and-mouth can take up to three weeks to become apparent in sheep.

More than 4,000 animals at Libanus near Brecon are being slaughtered, but it is hoped a mass cull can be avoided.

Meanwhile children are being kept home from school in the village after becoming distressed by scenes of animal slaughter.

Parents were shocked after uncovered lorries of carcasses were seen by the children.

This latest case comes just as the tourist trade in the Beacon was beginning to return to normal.

It had been more than a month since the last notified case in Wales, and there were hopes that the disease was subsiding.

Crisis in Wales
Total confirmed cases UK-wide 1,785 - with 93 in Wales
Powys - 57 cases
Anglesey - 13 cases
Monmouthshire - 16 cases
Caerphilly 1
Rhondda Cynon Taff - 1
Neath Port Talbot -1
Newport - 3
Skewen - 1

Farmers are waiting to hear whether the Chief Veterinary officer for Wales will announce more drastic measures to control the outbreak.

Tests to trace the source of the outbreak are continuing, while animals at neighbouring farms are culled.

A Welsh Assembly spokesperson said it may be "some time" before the cause was known.

Thousands of sheep roam on the hills, which could cause a major problem for rounding up the animals.

The latest case was detected at Modrydd Farm on Saturday.

Walkers have been returning to the countryside
A total of 600 hundred sheep, 600 lambs and 80 cattle were immediately slaughtered.

Officials have also used powers to carry out the slaughter of 2,000 sheep, 2,000 lambs and 159 cattle on nearby farms.

The has dealt a serious blow to the tourism and farming industries in mid Wales.

Tourism businesses in the Brecon Beacons had hoped for a lift in late bookings and the latest incident comes just a week after the re-opening of the popular Pen-y-Fan peak.

Farmers had been warning the re-opening of footpaths could be premature, amid news of fresh cases in other parts of the UK.

'Hammer blow'

Many tourism businesses are now struggling to survive, after a dire spring season of restrictions and cancellations.

Deputy First Minister Mike German said the news was a "hammer blow" for the region.

"This problem will persist for some time to come and clearly we have to quickly revisit our plans to tackle the crisis."

Farmers' Union of Wales president Bob Parry said the latest case was a "severe setback" for farmers and rural businesses.

Meanwhile, it was announced on Tuesday that Chepstow racecourse would re-open on 5 July.

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See also:

25 Jun 01 | Wales
Vets try to trace Beacons virus
24 Feb 01 | Wales
Warnings fail to stop walkers
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