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The BBC's Europe correspondent Angus Roxburgh
"Police are enforcing a ban on movement on all farm vehicles and products"
 real 56k

The BBC's Janet Barrie
"Nobody here is taking any chances at all"
 real 56k

Saturday, 3 March, 2001, 16:55 GMT
Foot-and-mouth alert in Europe
Workers dispose of slaughtered pigs at Belgian farm
Pigs were slaughtered at Belgian farm as a precaution
The first two suspected cases of foot-and-mouth disease have been reported on mainland Europe.

Belgium has banned the export of all livestock after the discovery of a suspected case at a pig farm in western Flanders.

And in France, a farm in the Loire region has been put under quarantine after veterinarians said they suspected the virus might be present in flock of 24 sheep and ordered tests.

Irish farmer Chris Hill inspects one of his lambs
All over Europe, farmers are anxiously looking for signs of the disease
Although initial tests have proved negative in both cases, more tests are being carried out and the final results may not be known until early next week.

If either case were to be confirmed, it would dramatically strengthen fears that the current outbreak - so far confined to the United Kingdom - is likely to spread across Europe.

In Britain and Northern Ireland, the number of farms and abattoirs where the disease has been discovered is now over 50, with more being reported every day.

Ban on livestock movement

Belgium's agriculture ministry has responded to the suspected case in Flanders by imposing a total ban on the movement of farm animals throughout the country.

Agriculture Minister Jaak Gabriels also ordered a 20km (12-mile) exclusion zone to be put in place around the farm at Diksmuide, where more than 300 pigs have been slaughtered.

Euro reaction
EU: no bans
France: ban on British and Irish products
Germany: culling British animals
Belgium: started cull
Spain: destroyed British pigs, disinfecting vehicles, seizing and destroying meat products
Portugal: disinfecting British visitors
Cyprus: disinfecting British visitors
Russia: banned all British meat products
Over the border in northern France, the authorities are tightening precautionary measures in response, and have also banned all farm animal movements.

Both France and Belgium have already announced a cull of animals which have either been imported from the UK or have come into contact with British animals.

France had earlier become the first European Union country to ban livestock imports from the Irish Republic after foot-and-mouth was discovered in Northern Ireland on Thursday.

Paris, which has already banned British products, is also banning all livestock markets and fairs from Tuesday as a precaution.

Dublin, meanwhile, has deployed thousands of soldiers along the border with Northern Ireland in an attempt to prevent the spread of the outbreak.

Fires burn in UK

In Britain, further cases are expected to emerge next week as animals incubating the highly contagious disease develop symptoms.

Passengers arriving in Portugal from Britain are disinfected
Passengers arriving in Portugal from Britain are being disinfected
But correspondents say if reports continue beyond that period, it would indicate that the situation is completely out of control.

Despite this, farmers in areas of the UK so far unaffected by the outbreak will be able to apply, from Saturday, for licences to move livestock to abattoirs.

Fires have been burning across the UK to destroy the carcasses of thousands of slaughtered livestock.

More than 40,000 animals have now been killed and government vets are trying to trace another 70,000 they think may have been infected.

Europe acts

The European Union has said there is no need to proceed to a mass vaccination programme.

Countries around Europe have, however, been steadily ratcheting up their emergency response.

Farm in Lancashire, UK
Animals from infected UK farms are being slaughtered and burnt
Germany has ordered the immediate destruction of all sheep and goats imported from the UK in the last four weeks.

Spain has banned all livestock fairs and incinerated hundreds of British pigs.

It has also issued guidelines on cleaning and disinfecting of vehicles and the confiscation and destruction of food and waste from the UK.

Russia is imposing a blanket ban on all meat products from Britain.

The Austrian Government has advised its nationals to avoid travelling to Britain "unless absolutely necessary".

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See also:

01 Mar 01 | Europe
Outbreak threatens Muslim holiday
01 Mar 01 | Europe
Ireland battens down the hatches
01 Mar 01 | Other Sports
Irish withdraw from Cheltenham
01 Mar 01 | Asia-Pacific
Australia's livestock fear
28 Feb 01 | Europe
France steps up sheep cull
28 Feb 01 | Europe
Germany's green revolution
28 Feb 01 | Media reports
Foot-and-mouth outbreak in Hong Kong
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