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Saturday, July 31, 2010
Miyazaki crisis almost over
The Miyazaki Prefectural Government on July 22 lifted its last ban on the shipment of livestock. This is a sign that the foot-and-mouth disease crisis in the prefecture, which lasted more than three months, is nearing an end. But it must be kept in mind that the eradication of the virus that causes foot-and-mouth disease has not yet been confirmed.
It only is confirmed that there are no more new cases of foot- and-mouth disease. There is the possibility that the virus remains in animal waste on livestock farms and in other substances. To prevent its spread, thorough disinfection must be carried out.
The prefectural government is visually inspecting all livestock in the prefecture — some 940,000 animals. It plans to officially declare an end to the foot-and-mouth disease crisis on Aug. 27, when the treatment and disposal of animal waste on livestock farms is completed.
The first case of foot-and-mouth disease in the latest crisis was detected April 20. By July 4, the disease had spread to 292 livestock farms. The shipment and movement of livestock was prohibited within a 20-km radius of affected farms. Some 290,000 cattle and pigs were destroyed.
The central government's manual to cope with foot-and-mouth disease, based on the experience of a more minor foot-and-mouth crisis in Miyazaki Prefecture in 2000, did not work. It is vital for both the central and prefectural governments to study the latest crisis closely and determine the route that allowed the disease to spread so widely.
In Britain, some 6.45 million livestock animals infected with foot- and-mouth disease were destroyed in 2001. A 1997 foot-and-mouth disease crisis devastated Taiwan's livestock industry. Japan must remain on guard to prevent another outbreak (even humans can carry the virus that causes foot-and-mouth disease). In addition, farmers affected by the latest crisis should be given sufficient public support to allow them to restart their livestock businesses.