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Wednesday, 4 July, 2001, 19:34 GMT 20:34 UK
Beacons 'clear' of disease
livestock cull
Thousands of animals in the area have been culled
Blood tests on animals grazing in the Brecon Beacons have suggested that the outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease at Libanus has not spread to the mountains.

Wednesday's news has come as a relief to many farmers who feared that tens of thousands of sheep which are kept on the hillsides near Brecon might have faced slaughter.

However, as a precaution, a ban on the movement of all animals has been extended as far as the Heads of the Valleys and into the Upper Swansea valley.

The only livestock allowed to move will be those bound for slaughter.

Closed footpaths in Brecon Beacons in Powys
Restrictions are still in place in Powys
It has now been established that the virus which has been discovered at five locations in Libanus was probably spread from farm to farm by people and not animals.

Earlier in the day, farming leaders met to seek assurances from Welsh Rural Affairs Minister Carwyn Jones that the outbreak was not out of control.

The farmers launched a campaign to debate whether a vaccination programme should be introduced.

Crisis in Wales
Total confirmed cases in Wales - 97
Powys - 61 cases
Anglesey - 13 cases
Monmouthshire - 16 cases
Caerphilly 2
Rhondda Cynon Taff - 1
Neath Port Talbot -1
Newport - 3

Traditionally farmers' unions have been vehemently opposed to any kind of vaccination programme because of the effect it would have on the disease-free status, and the consequent impact on the export market.

Glyn Powell, deputy president of the FUW, said they had invited an expert to address Wednesday's meeting so that a balanced judgement could now be made on vaccination.

Meanwhile, a video which advises farmers on the basic precautions against foot-and-mouth is being released by the UK government - because of fears that many were dropping their guard against the disease.

The Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said 90,000 copies of a short advice film were being sent to farmers throughout England - while the devolved administrations in Scotland and Wales will also step up their campaigns.

Professor David King, the government's chief scientific adviser, said the measures were needed because many farmers appeared to be "relaxing" their fight to prevent the spread of the disease.

Defra figures show that a total 1,804 cases of foot-and-mouth have now been recorded, and it says there are still a number of "problem areas" in Wales, Cumbria, North Yorkshire and Devon.

The video will highlight precautions to avoid the spread of the disease such as disinfecting clothes and vehicles and checking livestock for signs of illness.

The information will be accompanied by new adverts in the farming and regional press to alert farmers to the need for continued safety measures.

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See also:

29 Jun 01 | Wales
Disease cluster grows
26 Jun 01 | Wales
Vets test for virus on Beacons
25 Jun 01 | Wales
Vets try to trace Beacons virus
22 May 01 | Sci/Tech
Foot-and-mouth: A moving target
23 Apr 01 | UK
Dioxins: What are they?
25 May 01 | Music
Farm Aid 'set for October'
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