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City farms on foot-and-mouth disease watch

SHANGHAI'S cattle farms have been placed under strict surveillance, and 440 cows were culled in a precautionary slaughter after foot-and-mouth disease was discovered recently in Fengxian District.

The outbreak occurred at the Wusi Cattle Farm, where symptoms of the disease were found in 41 milk cows on February 3.

The Ministry of Agriculture confirmed that the animals were suffering from foot-and-mouth disease on Wednesday, the Shanghai Information Office said yesterday.

The office said the epidemic was under control and there were no reports of the illness at any other city farm.

Foot-and-mouth disease is a highly contagious virus that can sicken cloven-hoofed animals. It can have widespread economic consequences for the livestock industry but does not cause illness in humans.

Animals infected with the disease will experience blisters on the skin of the mouth, feet and breasts.

City authorities launched emergency measures at the Wusi farm, including blocking off and disinfecting the area where the sick cows were found and killing those cows and all cattle they had been in contact with.

Shanghai has suspended all transport of milk cows and breeding cattle, and access has been restricted to all the city's cattle farms.

Non-essential staff and vehicles are banned from entering or leaving the farms, and those that do must be disinfected, officials said.

Cattle farms were also ordered to check the health condition of their milk cows regularly and report any abnormalities to veterinary authorities immediately.

A Shanghai Daily reporter who visited the Wusi farm yesterday found the gate closed and the road in front covered with thick lime.

The city's largest dairy producer Bright Dairy, which has shares in the Wusi farm, said yesterday that the company is not using milk from the farm.

But experts said people wouldn't be affected by foot-and-mouth disease anyway and that it's safe to consume milk and dairy products.


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