Foot and Mouth Disease Prompts Tighter Inspections

The threat of Foot-and-Mouth Disease spreading has increased inspections on incoming flights from Britain to ensure no infested meat products spark the disease in other countries.

Claude Lavigne, deputy director of animal health at the Canadian food Inspection Agency, said Canadians who travel to Britain are being asked to avoid farms. If travelers visit farms, it is requested they wash their shoes and dry-clean their clothing before returning home. On top of the alert, a team of nearly 100 experts from Canada, the United States, and Mexico are on standby in case the disease enters their countries.

European countries have destroyed thousands of animals exported from Britain as a precaution against the spread of the disease. Thousands of farmers and their families were confined to their property as authorities tried to contain the outbreak of a virulent virus threatening to cripple British agriculture. Farmers and veterinarians asked the Army to help because there weren't able to keep up with the slaughter and massive incineration of thousands of cattle, sheep, and pigs.

The disease is affecting more than the agriculture industry. Cheltenham Race Course is within an exclusion zone of a suspected foot and mouth outbreak at a farm in Woolstone, about five miles away. If the farm is confirmed as having an outbreak, then there will be an exclusion zone for about two weeks, meaning 2001 National Hunt Festival will be postponed until April 17-19. The festival originally was scheduled for March 13-15.

Ireland's Department of Agriculture has issued a ban on importing horses into Britain. About 50 horses and 10,000 fans had been expected to travel from Ireland to Cheltenham, which is the highlight of the British jump racing season and attracts all the top jump horses in Britain and Ireland. But Irish owners and trainers said they supported guidelines issued by Ireland's Department of Agriculture.