Foot and Mouth Slaughter Numbers Escalating

This is one case of supply and demand that does not paint a pretty picture. There are so many animals to be slaughtered in England because of foot and mouth disease that the government cannot keep up with the demand.

Last Friday, phone lines were set up for farmers to request the slaughter of animals. The Guardian reports that the switchboard to the 30 phone lines was jammed. Farmers have asked for 700,000 more animals to be destroyed. many stranded in fields or on isolated farms where they can no longer be cared for.

The highly contagious disease infects cloven hoofed animals such as pigs, sheep, and cattle. Horses do not become infected, but can carry the disease. Infected animals usually do not die, but become worthless commercially. They are slaughtered to help control the spread of the disease.

To date, over 480,000 animals have been killed in Britain and another 282,000 are waiting to be slaughtered. Nearly 350,000 carcasses have been destroyed. The government has authorized another 764,000 to be slaughtered.

Farmers in England are being paid 90% of the pre-outbreak price for their animals. With the number expected to be slaughtered, the slaughter bill is already over £150 million. That figure is expected to more than double.

The total number of confirmed cases in Britain is 729 and there are also confirmed cases in France, Ireland, Argentina, Holland, and the United Arab Emirates.

At least 12,500 sheep and cattle are to be slaughtered in County Louth Ireland where there is one confirmed case and a suspected second.

The vaccination of 180,000 dairy cattle in England has been approved. It would be limited at this time to the hardest hit areas, the counties of Cumbria and Devon. The Dutch government approved limited vaccinations last week.

European Union officials have said vaccinating provides a big problem for livestock exporters. Countries that vaccinate for the disease lose their status on world markets because it is hard to tell the difference between vaccinated animals and those actually carrying the disease.

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