Foot-and-mouth cases rise
AMSTERDAM, The Netherlands -- A new case of foot-and-mouth disease has been confirmed in The Netherlands bringing the total to 26, authorities have said.
A Dutch agriculture ministry spokesman confirmed the case on Sunday and said there were no other farms currently under suspicion.
Northern Ireland also confirmed its fourth outbreak of the disease on Sunday but said the risk of the disease spreading further had been minimised.
The latest confirmed outbreak in The Netherlands was at a dairy farm near the village of Wijhe in the central part of the country where all but three of the Dutch cases of the highly infectious disease have been found.
The ministry plans to slaughter animals at 63 farms within a two-kilometre radius of the Wijhe dairy farm.
Agriculture minister Brid Rodgers in the British province said the confirmed case in Northern Ireland was on a farm southwest of Belfast in County Tyrone.
"The farm is close to the original outbreak. All the animals have been slaughtered and the risk of spread of the disease has been minimized," Rodgers said.
On mainland Britain the virulent livestock disease has infected 1,426 farm sites.
The foot-and-mouth virus causes blisters, fever and weight loss in hoofed animals such as pigs and cattle.
The disease is generally harmless to humans but is a major threat to the livestock trade. More than one million animals have been destroyed in the UK in an effort to halt the outbreak.
Protesters held a demonstration in The Hague, The Netherlands on Saturday against the European Union non-vaccination policy and the preventive killing of thousands of livestock in The Netherlands due to the disease.
Pressure is also mounting on the UK government to introduce a vaccination programme to tackle the foot-and-mouth epidemic.
Animal rights campaigners plan to hand in a giant letter to Prime Minister Tony Blair demanding an end to the mass slaughter policy.
And a coalition of influential groups and charities accused the National Farmers' Union (NFU) of "letting down" its members by refusing to cooperate with proposals to inoculate cattle in the worst affected areas.
The government has made it clear it wants to introduce a vaccination programme as part of the battle to contain foot-and-mouth.
Joyce D'Silva, director of Compassion in World Farming (CIWF), said: "Thousands of healthy animals are being slaughtered needlessly and in many instances inhumanely while the government bows to pressure from farmers not to vaccinate.
"Government cannot ignore its own laws on prevention of cruelty."
But many farmers fear that vaccination could actually prolong the outbreak. They say there would be no market for beef or milk from vaccinated animals and have asked the government for cast-iron guarantees of compensation.
Reuters contributed to this report.
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