BELGRADE - Yugoslavia has sent police and army units to seal off southern municipalities identified as having livestock infected with foot-and-mouth disease, according to agricultural officials. In an interview with the independent BK Television on Sunday evening, Federal Agriculgure Minister Tihomir Vrebalov said the police and army had established three "defensive lines" in a bid to stop the disease from spreading.
Vrebalov said several municipalities had been isolated in border regions of the southern province of Kosovo where the highly infectious disease was first detected last week. "We have deployed police and veterinary teams on the eight roads connecting Kosovo with Serbia -- this is our second line of defence," he told BKTV. "A third line is the blockade which has been set up in Serbian municipalities bordering Kosovo." He said the army had also moved to prevent all uncontrolled crossings of the Yugoslav borders with Albania and Macedonia.
Police investigating the spread of the disease through the Balkans say it appeared to originate in Greece earlier this month, before it struck in Albania. Cattle smugglers have been blamed for bringing it from Albania to Macedonia, while free grazing in border regions with Yugoslavia is believed responsible for the Kosovo epidemic.
The head of the crisis team established to contain the disease, Dr Georgije Trbojevic, said some 180 veterinarians were touring the affected areas, slaughtering any animals diagnosed as having contracted foot-and-mouth. At least 125 head of cattle had been killed by Monday morning, although that figure was expected to rise.
A veterinary expert, Marija Popovic said Yugoslavia had no significant quantities of foot-and-mouth vaccines in stock, and would have to import them from other parts of Europe. In 1974, the former Yugoslavia was declared free of the disease.
Re foot and mouth. The EU Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) budget line in place to police hygene of live animal imports has been fraudulently spent. Europe's borders are consequently unattended. Summer looks as though it may be a sizzle agro-politically! A piece referring to this will appear in a Swiss financial daily Monday.
VIENNA -- Austria's health ministry on Wednesday advised consumers to steer clear of raw meat and unpasteurised milk, saying they could be infected with a dangerous strain of bacteria. "Make sure all milk is pasteurised or boiled and meat is well cooked, especially minced meat," the ministry said in a statement.
Since May, seven out of 1,100 samples of meat and cow's and goat's milk have been found to contain a strain of Escherichia coli bacteria, more commonly known as E.coli. The virulent bacteria, which is borne by fecal material, have been shown to cause diarrhoea and kidney damage but can also prove deadly, especially in the elderly and children.
"We encourage small children, pregnant women, the elderly and people with weak immune systems to steer clear of raw sandwich meats and raw milk products," the minstry said. But it said all milk sold in supermarkets and properly cooked meat was safe.
The E.coli detected in the samples were a strain of the parasite which had only recently surfaced in Austria, the statement said.
In 1993, four children died in the northwestern United States after eating hamburgers infected with E.coli.
TOKYO -- Schoolteachers in a western Japanese city canvassed their pupils' homes Monday, searching for the cause of a food poisoning outbreak that has put nearly 500 children in the hospital. Officials in the city of Sakai have yet to pinpoint the source of infections of the E. coli O157 bacteria, which is spread through a variety of foods as well as human contact.
Sakai is the latest of several areas to suffer outbreaks of food poisoning. Altogether the number of victims has topped 8,200 people, with four deaths, the Health Ministry said Monday. At least one poisoning case, in Yokohama, has been attributed to raw beef liver. Suspicion has also fallen on dishes such as cold noodles and pork, a summer favorite in Japan.
School lunches were blamed for a large number of cases, but nearly all schools have now closed for summer vacation. In Sakai, public schoolteachers were visiting the homes of pupils one by one, trying to determine which dishes each student had eaten.
By Monday afternoon, 478 children were hospitalized. E. coli is particularly dangerous to children, who are at risk of a disastrous complication called hemolytic uremic syndrome, or HUS, that causes kidney failure.