Japan Lifts FMD State Of Emergency

JAPAN - Japan lifted a state of emergency yesterday (Tuesday 27) in the southern region, Miyazaki known for its prized and pampered cattle, after a three-month foot-and-mouth outbreak forced the slaughter of almost 300,000 farm animals.
calendar icon 27 July 2010
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The highly contagious virus, which rarely affects humans but sickens cloven-hoofed animals, had forced the suspension of meat sales from Miyazaki prefecture.

"Wagyu" cattle -- from both Miyazaki on Kyushu island and Kobe on Honshu island -- are famed for being pampered, fed beer and massaged daily, sometimes with sake, and some are even played classical music for relaxation.

But this year's emergency led to a ban on transporting animals, the closure of many public places, and a request for residents to avoid non-essential travel as the virus can easily be spread by people, for example on their shoes.

"I call off the declaration of a state of emergency entirely as of midnight on the 27th (of July)," said Miyazaki Governor Hideo Higashikokubaru.

About 288,000 animals have been culled since Japan's first foot-and-mouth outbreak since 2000 was confirmed in late-April, reports the Daily Yomiui Online.

The burial of so many animals required a total of about 1.42 million square meters of land. About 150,000 veterinarians, Ground Self-Defense Force members and local governments employees, among others, were mobilised for the work.

The Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry will aim at restoring Japan's status as an "FMD (foot-and-mouth disease) free" country. Japan aims to be granted this status by the World Organization of Animal Health, also known as OIE, when its science committee holds a meeting in February next year.

The ministry has to carry out a three-month inspection to prove that the FMD virus is virtually extinct in the nation and submit a report to the OIE.

The ministry said Tuesday it would launch a committee to examine the validity of measures taken by the national and prefectural governments to combat the disease.

The committee will consist of nine members from outside the ministry, including a lawyer and a scholar. It will examine such problems as the prefecture not having inspected a cow that was suspected of being infected with the disease in June, for instance. The prefecture's initial response to the outbreak in April also will be examined.

The first meeting of the committee will be held August 5, with a final report scheduled to be submitted to Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Masahiko Yamada in October.

TheCattleSite News Desk

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