12 April 2001
Dutch to slaughter diseased livestock
By Philip Clarke, Europe editor
THE Netherlands is is expected to announce the destruction of all cattle vaccinated against foot-and-mouth disease on Thursday (12 April).
Dutch agriculture minister Laurens Jan Brinkhorst and farm leaders believe that the consequences of keeping the animals alive would be too onerous.
In particular, all farm animals within 10km of the vaccination zone would be subject to export restrictions.
That amounts to about 1.5m animals, including 500,000 cattle and 800,000 pigs, said a spokesman for the Dutch farmers union.
Those restrictions would last at least 12 months after the last foot-and-mouth vaccines are administered.
Since vaccinated animals will need second doses in six months time to secure their immunity, that would mean exports would be held up for at least 18 months.
There really is no choice but to kill them, said the spokesman.
Currently the Netherlands operates two vaccination schemes.
The suppressive policy is for all animals within 2km of any outbreak of foot-and-mouth, which must be destroyed within two months.
A protective scheme is for all other animals within a vaccination zone around the main foot-and-mouth hotspot of Oene.
While all pigs and sheep in this zone have been slaughtered, so far cattle have been spared. It is these which are now to be destroyed.
In total, some 54,000 cattle fall within the vaccination zone, although 17,000 are within 2km of confirmed cases, so are due for destruction anyway.