13 March 2001
Foot-and-mouth reaches France

By Philip Clarke, Europe editor

FRANCE has confirmed its first case of foot-and-mouth disease – in a 114-cow herd in the Mayenne departement in the north-west of the country.

After numerous false alarms, this is the first time the disease has been found on the Continent since it was confirmed in the UK three weeks ago.

State vets were alerted to the suspect case on Monday (12 March) and confirmed the positive test results on Tuesday, according to French newswires.

An action plan has already been triggered in an effort to contain the disease. All 114 cows have been slaughtered and will be incinerated.

All other agricultural products are to be destroyed on the holding and a total cleaning and disinfection programme launched.

The farm was less than one kilometre from a unit which imported infected British sheep last month. Those animals were destroyed on 27 February.

A 3km protection zone and a 10km surveillance zone are already in place.

It remains to be seen whether the outbreak sours relations between the UK and its European Union partners.

Julie Smith, who heads the NFU office in Brussels, believes there will still be some sympathy – at least within farming groups.

“People do understand that every one is vulnerable,” she said.

Foot-and-mouth – confirmed outbreaks
Foot-and-mouth – FWi coverage