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2010年6月14日 (月)

口蹄疫拡大 迅速で着実な防疫策がカギだ

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Jun. 14, 2010)
Swift, steady action key to halt foot-and-mouth
口蹄疫拡大 迅速で着実な防疫策がカギだ(6月13日付・読売社説)

The outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in Miyazaki Prefecture has spread further from its origin and could expand to the entire prefecture.

New infections have been confirmed in cities including Miyakonojo, which is located about 50 kilometers from the epidemic's locus in the eastern part of the prefecture.

The epidemic now has reached a crucial juncture--whether the disease will spread outside the prefecture. Prime Minister Naoto Kan visited the prefecture Saturday and pledged the government would take all possible steps to support affected livestock farmers. The central and prefectural governments must strengthen epidemic prevention measures and do all they can to contain the disease.

The central and prefectural governments have been trying to prevent further infection by slaughtering and burying cows and pigs on disease-affected livestock farms, as well as by restricting movement and transfer of the livestock in the vicinity.

At farms within a 10-kilometer radius of major outbreak locations, livestock that have not been infected with the disease are being vaccinated to prevent the virus from spreading and then culled.

However, infections have been confirmed on farms far from the locations of the disease's initial outbreak about 50 days ago. It must be asked whether there has been any lapse in preventative measures against the disease's spread since then.


Minimize infections' impact

What is now necessary is to minimize damage to areas where new infections have been detected.

The city of Ebino in the prefecture successfully contained the disease by slaughtering livestock immediately after infections were confirmed. Learning from its example, the Miyakonojo city government began culling livestock after informing the central government of certain animals' symptoms through photos, without waiting for results of genetic tests conducted by the central government. Such swift responses are necessary to deal with the disease from now on.

One of the reasons for the spread of infections seems to be the fact that the cull of cows and pigs has not been conducted smoothly because it is difficult to find people to slaughter the livestock and places to bury the animals. It is possible the virus might have spread from these livestock. Slaughter of the remaining 30,000 cows must be sped up.

A special law on foot-and-mouth disease that took effect June 4 allows the central government to slaughter healthy livestock without farmers' consent if necessary. The legislation aims to prevent new infections by creating a livestock-free "blank area" where animals are culled.

The Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry does not plan to apply this law in areas where new infections have been confirmed. However, if infections do expand, it is inevitable that this measure would be taken.


Find out how disease spread

Also, it is an urgent task to find out why foot-and-mouth disease has spread. One theory holds that people and vehicles that visit livestock farms have slipped through designated sterilization points. Others noted the possibility soil with the virus was carried by the wind. The government should strengthen field studies by epidemic prevention experts.

Miyakonojo produces some of the best livestock in the country. Neighboring Kagoshima Prefecture is well known for its Berkshire pigs and black cattle. The spread of the disease to Kagoshima Prefecture would immensely impact the country's livestock industry as well as adversely affect people's diets.

We hope the Kan Cabinet will place top priority on tackling foot-and-mouth disease.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun,June 13, 2010)
(2010年6月13日01時14分  読売新聞)


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