Friday, March 02, 2001

Disease curtails human activity

Dog show canceled; forests closed

By Laura King
The Associated Press

        LONDON — It's an animal ailment, but these days, hardly a person living in the British Isles is unaffected by the nationwide outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease.

        In the latest round of cancellations and curtailments meant to stem the spread of the highly contagious livestock virus, organizers Thursday called off Britain's biggest dog show.

[photo] Irish soldiers and police check vehicles at the border with Northern Ireland in attempt to prevent foot-and-mouth disease from reaching the Irish Republic.
(Associated Press photo)
| ZOOM |
        With word that the disease has jumped the Irish Sea, authorities were even thinking about the unthinkable — cancellation of St. Patrick's Day festivities in Dublin.

        Since foot-and-mouth disease was discovered Feb. 19 at a slaughterhouse in southern England — Britain's first outbreak in two decades — the list of banned activities has lengthened daily. No fishing in angling streams, no strolls on country paths, no fox-hunting, no unnecessary farm visits, no horse racing.

        Britain's public forests and bird reserves were closed to the public Thursday, as were all countryside sites run by the National Trust.

        There were fears the disease would spread to continental Europe, and human visitors were feeling a bit unwelcome. Thursday, Portugal announced anyone arriving from the United Kingdom would have to dip their shoes in disinfectant.

        The disease sickens only cloven-hoofed creatures like pigs, cattle and sheep, but it can be spread by just about anything that moves. Cases have been reported in more than 30 places in Britain. And the first cases have been confirmed in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

        Foot-and-mouth hasn't crossed into the Republic of Ireland, but cases turned up at a farm along the frontier.


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