11 April 2001
New foot-and-mouth threat to NI

By Philip Clarke, Europe editor

NORTHERN Ireland farmers are waiting for tests results from a suspected case of foot-and-mouth which could see their meat exports banned once again.

The first results from samples taken from a dairy farm near Cookstown, County Tyrone, were due back at 1900hrs on Wednesday (11 April).

The Northern Ireland Department of Agriculture described the case as a hot suspect. “We are very worried,” said a department spokesman.

“There were 20 heifers involved, and 80% had very pronounced lesions. It is a complete mystery, as this farm is in the middle of nowhere.”

If confirmed, the case will dash hopes of a return to relative normality for the province, which so far has had just one outbreak on a farm in South Armagh.

Export restrictions were lifted on 04 April for most in Northern Ireland, including the ban on live animals and unprocessed livestock products.

But this relaxation did not include Newry and Mourne, the two administrative areas near where foot-and-mouth had been confirmed.

These two areas were due to have their restrictions lifted next week (19 April), on condition there had been no further outbreaks of the disease.

If the latest suspect is confirmed, Northern Ireland can expect to have the full range of movement limitations re-imposed.

“This suspect case shows that the threat of foot-and-mouth is still with us,” said Northern Ireland agriculture minister, Brid Rodgers.

“I very much hope that this case will not be positive, but at this point we must expect the worst.”

In a similar development, the Netherlands has also reported another foot-and-mouth case in a previously unaffected area.

The latest outbreak – the countrys 21st – is on a dairy farm near the north coast, about 100 miles from the main foot-and-mouth region of Oene and Olst.

Several thousand sheep and cattle will be slaughtered.

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