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CNN Today

Foot and Mouth Disease in Europe Causes Cancellations

Aired March 2, 2001 - 4:13 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

JOIE CHEN, CNN ANCHOR: The British government said today its quarantine of livestock is slowing the spread of foot and mouth disease. But fear of the animal virus is racing all across Europe.

In several countries cars and people who arrive from Britain are being treated with disinfectant. In France, there are plans to slaughter some 50,000 livestock. And Sweden, today, banned visits to farms by non-farm workers. All these measures, and others, part of the massive efforts to keep the illness confined.

So far, it has been confirmed in the British Isles only, a total of 36 cases there. But the illness is so contagious, it is causing disruptions far and wide. Now there's even talk of delaying the British elections because of it.

CNN's Tom Mintier with the latest from London.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TOM MINTIER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Irish will not fill the streets of Dublin on St. Patrick's day this March 17th. Due to concerns over foot-and-mouth disease the parade has been called off.

Ireland, a farming-intensive country, normally draws half a million people for Dublin's parade. The fear is that some of those people would have been exposed to foot-and-mouth virus and then transmit it to others in the crowd, setting off a chain that would ultimately spread the virus to uninfected farms.

The international rugby match between Ireland and Wales has also been canceled. So, too, is horse and dog racing. Just about anyplace large crowds can gather events are being canceled or discouraged.

The economic losses could be staggering; millions upon millions of dollars in lost revenue and taxes. A major three-day meeting at Cheltenham, a key event in the English horse racing calendar, will go on but without any Irish horses after trainers pulled out of the event. Farm areas are now off limits to city residents. And parks and hiking trails that have wild animal populations are closed to the public.

TIM LANG, FOOD AND SAFETY EXPERT: I applaud, as a public health person, applaud the way the government has acted. If it had dilly- dallied, no doubt it would be spreading like mad.

MINTIER: All over Europe, governments are stepping up foot-and- mouth precautions. Customs officials are looking for meat or dairy products in trucks or in suitcases, because the products could be contaminated.

Vehicles crossing the borders are driving across disinfectant pads. Many people seem to support the measures.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sometimes you just have to put your own needs or your own interests second.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think if the authorities think it's necessary I think it's the right thing to do.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The more people you can keep away from any country venues, I think the better it is.

MINTIER: There seem to be few exceptions to the concern. Up in Scotland, at the Rosslyn Institute near Edinburgh, the first cloned animal, Dolly, was put into quarantine.

At the final end of the food chain there are also effects. Some supermarkets now say precautions are hitting home.

(on camera): With slaughter houses closed and no new animals coming to market, butchers and grocery stores may have to look elsewhere for supply. The shelves are not empty, but some chains have already made contact with meat suppliers outside of Britain, just in case.

Tom Mintier, CNN, London.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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