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Mon, Jan 24, 2000 - Page 2 News List

Foot-and-mouth disease spreads to neighboring county

STAFF WRITER WITH AGENCIES

Contrary to earlier official statements, an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) has spread from Yunlin County to neighboring Chiayi County, Council of Agriculture (COA) chairman Lin Hsiang-nung (林享能) said at a news conference held late last night.

More than 80 percent of 131 cattle on a ranch in Liuchiao township (六腳鄉), Chiayi County are infected with the disease and will be slaughtered immediately, said Lin.

Earlier yesterday, Watson Sung (宋華聰), deputy director of the COA's Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine (防檢局) said that the rapid quarantine of infected dairy farms in Yunlin County and the slaughter of potentially-infected cows had prevented the spread of foot-and-mouth disease to other farms.

Lee Chin-lung (李金龍), the bureau's director, yesterday confirmed reports that three calves had died of FMD on a Yunlin dairy farm before they were due to be slaughtered and incinerated. He said that at least six or seven dairy cows on the farm exhibited symptoms of the disease as early as Jan. 15.

Feng Han-peng (馮翰鵬), a professor from National Chunghsing University, claims that 60 to 70 percent of the Yunlin cows showed symptoms of FMD before they were slaughtered.

Feng was the first veterinarian to inspect the sick cows and was the person who informed the COA of a possible FMD outbreak.

But no one will know for sure about the exact condition of the animals, as all the cows have been slaughtered and incinerated, said Feng.

Meanwhile, many dairy farmers in Yunlin have disinfected their facilities and purchased FMD vaccinations for their herds.

Dairy operators in southern Taiwan have begun to complain about the government's shoddy handling of the FMD outbreak, and say that milk sales have dropped.

This is the third outbreak of FMD in as many years. A virulent strain of the disease devastated Taiwan's hog industry in 1997, forcing authorities to slaughter 4 million out of 7 million swine.

Inoculation against the disease is nearly 90 percent complete among pigs, according to the COA, but many cows and sheep have not yet been vaccinated.

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