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Foot-and-Mouth Disease Reaches Ireland and the Netherlands

Ahern’s announcement comes a day after the disease was discovered in the Netherlands. Three weeks ago, a case of the highly-contagious livestock disease was documented in Northern Ireland.

The confirmations establish that foot-and-mouth — which does not threaten humans — was not contained in France, the only other continental European country to confirm the disease since it broke out in Britain in February.

The disease reached Ireland despite preventative measures imposed when Northern Ireland reported a case March 1. The Irish canceled St. Patrick’s Day parades and most outdoor activities. Ireland had hoped to protect it $6 billion-a-year livestock industry from foot-and-mouth, which can kill cloven-hoofed animals or cause them to lose weight and produce less milk.

“All we can hope now is to confine it to the immediate area,” Tom Parlon of the Irish Farmers Association said. “I think there will be an immediate slaughter of all the sheep and stock.”

Prime Minister Ahern said the two confirmed cases were found 50 miles north of Dublin. In Britain, the number of confirmed cases has climbed to 444. Roughly 275,000 animals have been slaughtered there to stop the spread of the disease.

In the Netherlands, 20,000 animals have been slaughtered. The European Union has banned Dutch livestock exports and some meat, dairy and animal products exports. The EU Commission said it will do the same for Irish livestock and restrict animal product sales from the area.

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