Portugal: foot and mouth disease makes its first impression as disease sweeps eastwards

As the Pan Asian 0 strain of the Foot and Mouth Virus leaves the United Kingdom and travels eastwards over the European continent, first Belgium, then France and Germany and now Portugal are victims. Russia can only watch as the disease, which prefers cold climatic conditions, spreads eastwards. The Portuguese authorities decided to slaughter 16 cows which presented signs of antibodies to Foot and Mouth Disease as a preliminary precaution towards preventing an outbreak of the disease. What they did not say was that when the first signs of this disease appear, the situation is two weeks down the line and an epidemic is more than likely to break out. When the present pandemic has abated, certainly there will be calls for a mass vaccination of animals against this virus or a change in policy, since it is not fatal and animals infected with it will recover naturally. There is no evidence to date that meat from animals which caught this disease and were subsequently cured, is dangerous for human consumption. Certainly it is much less dangerous than other meat released into the human food chain over the last two decades. The world lives in a climate of speculation and false pretexts which create economic pressure groups. The slaughter-subsidy-restock policy, preferred by the European Union, is a sign of the times. It is as unnecessary as it is unnatural. Whatever happened to age-old., traditional farming methods, favouring safe, local produce and eventually a pooling of excess national resources for export? Feeding cows with pulverised sheep brains, fattening pigs with cheap meat from Asia and genetically modifying pulses and vegetables seems to be asking for trouble. Until there is a significant change in farming practices and policies, such outbreaks will be a norm, until a public health calamity besets a large portion of the human race, by which time it will be too late.


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