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Caution For World Cup Fans On Biosecurity Risks

29 May 2002 - For immediate release

CAUTION FOR WORLD CUP FANS AGAINST BIOSECURITY RISK OF SPREAD OF FOOT AND MOUTH

Soccer fans travelling to the World Cup in Korea have been asked to be take special care to avoid any risk of bringing Foot and Mouth disease (FMD) back to New Zealand.

Allen Bryce, acting Director Animal Biosecurity at the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF), said a recent outbreak of FMD in South Korea should serve as a strong reminder to travellers to leave all biosecurity risk goods, such as meat, behind in Korea.

"While attention has focused on the impact of the outbreak of FMD in Europe, and the United Kingdom in particular, last month's outbreak of FMD in South Korea demonstrates how vulnerable New Zealand is given FMD is present in many countries throughout Asia.

"Carrying dirty sporting equipment and outdoor clothing, and plant and food material are just a few examples of ways travellers' luggage can host unwanted pests and diseases. Where there is any doubt items should be packed at the top of suitcases in plastic bags or carried in hand luggage and all biosecurity risk items fully declared on re-entering New Zealand," said Mr Bryce.

""New Zealand has never had a case of FMD and everyone, including the travelling public, needs to take responsibility for ensuring we maintain our FMD-free status. Although the risk of introduction of FMD on humans or their clothing is remote, the relatively short time of an intercontinental flight within the Asia-Pacific region does cause extra concern and so all travellers need to take extra care to avoid coming into contact with the virus. [See attached background sheet].

For further information contact:

Allen Bryce, Acting Director, Animal Biosecurity

Tel (04) 470 2787 or fax (04) 474 4133

A website detailing how FMD would affect New Zealand and offering further advice to travellers and farmers is available at www.footnmouth.govt.nz

MAF published an assessment of the risks posed to New Zealand by FMD last month; see

http://www.maf.govt.nz/biosecurity/pests-diseases/animals/risk/foot-and-mouth-ra.pdf

>> BACKGROUND <<

The latest outbreak of Foot and Mouth disease (FMD) in South Korea occurred first at two different locations (Chungbuk and Kyonggi) and immediately resulted in the death or destruction of more than 9000 animals. The number of animals slaughtered since then has climbed rapidly to more than 100,000.

Korea lost its FMD disease-free status in March 2000, when FMD was reported in cattle, for the first time since 1934. Up until the outbreak last month no new outbreak had been reported since April 2000. The last case of FMD in Japan, which is co-hosting the FIFA World Cup, occurred in May 2000 and Japan is regarded as FMD-free.

This particular strain of FMD is known as the PanAsia strain. As knowledge of FMD has grown it has been possible to track the different viruses and their strains. The PanAsia strain was first identified in northern India around 1990 and has spread both westward and eastward from there. Since 2000 this strain of FMD was evident in outbreaks in Russia, Mongolia and South Africa followed in February 2001 by its arrival in western Europe.

The emergence of the PanAsia strain illustrates that it is possible for new and significantly different FMD viruses to appear, and it is difficult to predict the impact that any new strain will have on world animal health.

Transmission of FMD most commonly occurs during physical or close contact between acutely infected and susceptible animals. The next most common transmission pathway occurs when livestock are fed contaminated animal products such as meat, offal or milk.

ENDS

REMEMBER - 8 TO 14 July is Protect New Zealand Week.


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