Beijing foot-and-mouth confirmed

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 28 May, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 28 May, 2005, 12:00am

A top mainland veterinary official yesterday confirmed that foot-and-mouth disease had broken out near Beijing and in two other locations, and said more than 4,000 cattle had been slaughtered to bring the disease under control.

Jia Youling , director-general of the Ministry of Agriculture's veterinary bureau, confirmed three new cases in addition to the two reported to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) and the UN Food and Agricultural Organisation on May 13.

Asia Type One foot-and-mouth virus was found in Hebukesaier county, in the Xinjiang Autonomous Region ; Yanqing county, on the outskirts of Beijing; and Sanhe city, Hebei province . The earlier two cases were found in Taian city , Shandong province , and Wuxi city , Jiangsu .

Mr Jia said 4,383 cattle had been culled - those infected by the virus or in the same herd.

'[The] epidemic situation has been put under control and the disease has been prevented from spreading further,' he said.

The central and local governments would work out a compensation scheme, paying 4,000 to 6,000 yuan per head of cattle to affected farmers.

Mr Jia defended the tardiness of disclosure, saying that a lapse of some 20 days before reporting was within the norm for other OIE member countries.

He also attributed the delay to the fact that it was a new strain of the disease and that diagnostic tests were designed to confirm earlier types of the virus.

He also said the central government did not treat reporting of the disease as a high priority because foot-and-mouth was not a threat to human health.

Mr Jia said the central government had had no intention of concealing the disease, although it could not guarantee that local governments would report all cases.

The outbreak could affect international trade - the mainland has 53 per cent of the world's pigs, 9 per cent of the cattle and 20 per cent of the sheep.

The mainland had established five disease-free zones, which produced 40 per cent of the mainland's export animals, Mr Jia said.