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The BBC's David Chazan
"50 000 animals at risk from the disease have now been slaughtered"
 real 56k

The BBC's Nick Bryant in Washington
"Sniffer dogs have been put on heightened alert"
 real 56k

Thursday, 15 March, 2001, 09:51 GMT
World moves to contain disease
US official disinfecting shoes
US officials are imposing tougher checks on EU visitors
Countries around the world have been stepping up measures to contain foot-and-mouth disease, banning meat and grain imports and increasing checks on travellers from Europe.

United States Government officials began disinfecting shoes, luggage and clothing of some travellers arriving from Europe. Japan is taking similar measures.

Disinfecting at Chiang Kai-shek airport
Taiwan is disinfecting entranceways across the island
The US also announced that food and other products suspected of carrying the disease would be confiscated and destroyed.

South Korea has joined the list of countries banning imports of cloven-hoofed livestock from EU countries.

The European Union has protested at the bans on meat and dairy products imposed by about 90 countries - it called the trade restrictions excessive and unnecessary.

Some, including Morocco, Tunisia, Slovakia and Hungary, have gone further and stopped a wide range of agricultural trade, even cereals.

Tougher checks

The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) warned of the possible global spread of the disease.

foot-and-mouth
The disease spread to France despite stringent safeguards
FAO animal health service chief Yves Cheneau called for tougher checks on the import of food products, including those carried by tourists, as well as stricter controls on immigrants and tourists.

The US has implemented a series of measures for those arriving from Europe, including the deployment of beagle dogs which can sniff prohibited food inside luggage.

Those who admit to having visited a farm are questioned, and if their footwear is found to be muddy it is disinfected.

Trade dispute

An EU spokeswoman said on Wednesday, that the disease was clearly a cause for concern around the world, but only exports from Britain and France should be affected at the moment.

She said: "It is not proportionate. The only outbreak is in Britain and France.

sheep
Sheep are culled as more than 200 cases of foot-and-mouth are identified in the UK
"Thirteen EU states are disease-free. We have measures in place to keep it that way."

A BBC correspondent says there is now a danger that this agricultural crisis will become the focus of a wider trade dispute.

But US Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman was unrepentant.

"We haven't had a case since 1929," she told CNN.

"The measures we are taking are to ensure that we remain a foot-and-mouth disease-free country."

Pork problems

The biggest importer of animals and meat from the EU is Russia, and so far that trade has been unaffected.

But the US ban will badly hit the Netherlands and Denmark, which supply large quantities of pork to the American market. Imports of beef from the European Union already were banned because of BSE - mad cow disease.

cheese
Canada has banned some cheeses
The bans on EU imports follow the discovery of foot-and-mouth disease among cattle in Mayenne, northern France on Tuesday.

In the UK, more than 200 cases have been confirmed.

Foot-and-mouth disease strikes cloven-hoofed animals such as sheep, pigs and cows, either killing the animals or reducing production of milk and meat.

It can be transmitted by the wind, people or vehicles, or spread by contaminated hay, water and manure.

Entire herds are being destroyed to prevent the spread of the disease, which is not harmful to humans.

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See also:

15 Mar 01 | Middle East
Foot-and-mouth scare in Gulf
14 Mar 01 | Americas
Argentina admits farm infection
14 Mar 01 | Europe
EU furore over foot-and-mouth
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