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UK FMD Outbreak Highlights Biosecurity Importance

Federated Farmers: UK FMD Outbreak Highlights Importance of Biosecurity

Federated Farmers Biosecurity spokesman Tom Lambie believes the recent outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) in the United Kingdom (UK) highlights the importance of biosecurity for New Zealand.

"New Zealand has a very high economic dependence on its natural environment for tourism and its ability to produce and export primary products in a very competitive international market place. An outbreak of FMD in New Zealand would be disastrous," said Mr Lambie.

UK Ministry of Agriculture Fisheries and Food (MAFF) officials have confirmed the presence of FMD in pigs and cattle in the county of Essex. FMD is an acute infectious viral disease causing fever, followed by the development of blisters mainly found on the feet and in the mouth.

It is said to be more infectious than any other disease affecting animals and spreads rapidly if uncontrolled. Cattle, sheep, pigs, goats and deer are susceptible, as well as other cloven hooved animals, hedgehogs and rats. The disease can be spread by either direct or indirect contact (e.g. airborne contact) with animals. The disease is also spread mechanically by the movement of animals, persons, vehicles and other things, which have been contaminated by the virus.

"The importance to New Zealand of stringent biosecurity measures cannot be understated."

"The UK government has banned exports of meat, milk and livestock, while the European Union has also banned British exports to other member countries. The outbreak may have terrible implications for the on-going viability of the British livestock industry."

"New Zealand must not be complacent when it comes to biosecurity - stringent biosecurity measures are vitally important. The Government must do everything possible to maintain high standards," concluded Mr Lambie.

ENDS

For further information: Tom Lambie (026) 113-161 Alistair Polson (025) 370-085


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