EU: Foot and mouth under control; import bans should be lifted

Wednesday, May 23rd 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) _ The European Union urged its trading partners to lift bans on imports of live animals and meat Tuesday, saying Europe's foot-and-mouth epidemic is under control.

EU Health Commissioner David Byrne said the bans should be limited to only Britain and the Netherlands that still deal with foot-and-mouth disease though the incidence is falling fast.

He said new cases in Britain had dropped to five, from as many as 50 per day during the peak of the crisis that began in late February.

The Netherlands has not reported any new cases for a month while the outbreak has been completely eradicated in France and Ireland, he said.

``There has been considerable improvement and huge progress made in bringing the crisis under control,'' Byrne said.

Some three million animals believed to have been at risk of catching or transmitting the highly contagious disease have been slaughtered as a result of the outbreak.

Byrne said estimates showed Britain could face a total bill of around $518 million to cover the costs of fighting the disease.

The EU only had $35 million available in its 2001 budget to deal with the crisis. It has, however, set aside $242 million in next years budget to help farmers recover from the outbreak.