October 13, 2003

 

 

Affirmation of US Cattle Not Infected with Foot-and-Mouth Virus

 

Final tests on sick cattle in Nogales, Arizona, showed they don't have foot-and-mouth disease, a spokeswoman Julie Quick for the U.S. Department Agriculture reported.

 

"The final test came back negative'" last night, said Julie.

 

Preliminary tests had demonstrated that the eight head of cattle in Arizona weren't carrying foot-and-mouth disease, the department said Friday. Thereafter, Mexico would open its border to U.S. livestock once again.

 

Mexico had barred shipments of live cattle, hogs, sheep and goats earlier Friday after the cattle in Nogales were found Thursday night with blisters similar to those caused by foot-and- mouth disease. Ever since 1929, U.S. has been free of the highly contagious livestock illness.

 

The animals in Nogales were quarantined, and blood and tissue were flown to New York for testing.

 

A foot-and-mouth outbreak could devastate the $100 billion U.S. livestock industry, said Andrew Wolf, an analyst at BB&T Capital Markets in Richmond, Virginia. An outbreak in the U.K. in 2001 led to the destruction of a 10th of the nation's livestock and crippled rural businesses and tourism. The government paid out $1.7 billion in compensation.

 

The U.S. last year exported $4.7 billion of beef and pork, according to the Meat Export Federation. Mexico was the largest buyer of U.S. beef products by volume, taking about 350,000 metric tons from U.S. producers worth $854 million. It also purchased 218,000 tons of U.S. pork, second to Japan, worth about $252 million, the Denver-based trade group said on its Web site, citing USDA figures.

 

The foot-and-mouth virus causes cattle, pigs, sheep, goats, deer and other hoofed animals to break out in blisters, making it difficult for the animals to eat and in addition reducing meat and milk production. It doesn't affect poultry and it's not harmful to humans, even if they eat infected meat.