France confirms first foot-and-mouth case in continental Europe |

France confirms first foot-and-mouth case in continental Europe

The Associated Press

LASSAY-LES-CHATEAUX, France – Foot-and-mouth disease struck France’s vital farm belt Tuesday, confirming fears that a disease which could deal a harsh blow to Europe’s already rattled livestock industry has spread to the continent.

The United States reacted by suspending imports of animals and animal products from the 15-nation European Union, and Canada banned imports of EU agricultural products. The EU itself moved to ban exports of livestock from France as well as livestock, beef and dairy products from Argentina, where foot-and-mouth was confirmed Tuesday in a cow in Pampas, a heavy cattle farming area in the country’s northwest.

EU experts said they hope the outbreak found on a cattle farm in the village of La Baroche-Gondouin in northwest France will remain an isolated case.

But French Agriculture Minister Jean Glavany said he fears further outbreaks of the disease, which was confirmed in Britain last month and has reached epidemic proportions there.

Foot-and-mouth disease spreads very easily and can be carried from one place to another by humans, animals or vehicles. Canada’s import ban included used farm equipment.

Farmers in this region of verdant sloping pastures – now dotted with police checkpoints to monitor traffic – braced for the worst.

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