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The BBC's Bob Sinkinson
"The disease is in danger of becoming a full scale crisis for the whole European livestock industry"
 real 56k

Former Prime Minister John Major MP
"We face a national crisis"
 real 28k

Mike Woodin, Green Party
"We regard the slaughter of healthy herds as an overreaction"
 real 28k

Friday, 23 March, 2001, 08:30 GMT
Outbreak to exceed 1967 epidemic
Slaughtered sheep at a farm in Co Louth on the border with Northern Ireland
The cull of animals is only 7,000 fewer than in 1967
A government study evaluating the growing scale of the foot-and-mouth crisis will reveal that the outbreak is poised to exceed the epidemic of 1967.

Another 45 cases on Thursday brought the number of condemned animals to 435,000 thousand - only 7,000 fewer than the cull 34 years ago.

The UK crisis
480 confirmed cases - 45 on Thursday
272,824 animals slaughtered
162,667 awaiting slaughter
193,284 carcasses destroyed

The European Union food safety commissioner, David Byrne, has called for every farm animal in Europe to be tagged to prevent a repeat of the outbreak.

Mr Byrne said the move would enable routes of infection to be swiftly identified and would also detect illicit movements of animals, blamed for the rapid spread of the disease.

Speaking on BBC Two's Newsnight programme he said: "Clearer identification of animals that can transmit this disease is absolutely essential and one of the ways of doing that is by tagging the animals."

"Look at the consequences of not having the capacity to identify the movements of sheep like this."

Mr Byrne said he realised that farming bodies were resistant to the move.

"Of course its a big task, but look at the consequences if it contributed to the foot-and-mouth disease that we are looking at at the moment.

"The economic consequences of that in the UK are enormous and may happen in other member states as well."

Troops move in

The fight against the disease in the UK stepped up as Army troops moved into Dumfries and Galloway to help with the mass slaughter of animals.

They will help with the planning and logistics of the pre-emptive cull of 200,000 apparently healthy sheep in the region.

Prime Minister Tony Blair is expected to use an EU economic summit to appeal for more continental vets to join the fight against foot-and-mouth.

David Byrne
David Byrne: Tagging call
He flew to Sweden on Thursday night for the talks which are taking place in Stockholm.

Mr Blair is also expected to use the opportunity to try and sell Britain abroad.

Chief veterinary officers from the European Union are meeting in Brussels to discuss the question of vaccinating animals against foot-and-mouth disease.

Dutch vets are expected to press for emergency vaccination, saying that earlier reasons for not carrying out a mass vaccination are no longer valid.

EU law agreed 15 years ago prohibits vaccination as it believes the disadvantages far outweigh the benefits.

On Thursday the UK Government unveiled a 150m compensation scheme to help farmers who lose healthy animals.

Agriculture Minister Nick Brown announced a fixed rate of "generous tariffs" to farmers for the value of animals left stranded by the disease.


Look at the consequences of not having the capacity to identify the movements of sheep like this

David Byrne

Farmers will be paid up to 90% of market value for animals, with them typically receiving 81 for a breeding ewe and 42 for a new season's lamb, Mr Brown said.

The Republic of Ireland reported its first case of foot-and-mouth disease in County Louth, by the border with Northern Ireland.

Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern said two samples from a flock of sheep at Proleek, near Ravensdale, in County Louth, had tested positive for the livestock virus.

The slaughter of farm animals began in the Irish Republic on Thursday evening.

A temporary ban on all Irish exports of live animals and animal products was also announced.

The outbreak has been connected with Northern Ireland's only confirmed case of the disease at Meigh in south Armagh.

The Republic was the fourth European country infected by the livestock virus.

The other nations affected are the Netherlands and France.

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See also:

22 Mar 01 | Scotland
Slaughter moves to Dumfriesshire
02 Mar 01 | Northern Ireland
Moves to stop spread of disease
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