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Taiwan says cattle hoof-and-mouth disease from China.

TAIPEI, June 11 Kyodo

Taiwan alleged Friday that cattle on the offshore island of Quemoy found to be infected with hoof-and-mouth disease were smuggled in from China. Sung Hua-tsung, deputy head of plant and animal quarantine at the cabinet's Council of Agriculture, said the virus confirmed Thursday in two head of cattle on a farm on Quemoy, which is located just a few kilometers off the Chinese mainland, is not identical to the type of hoof-and-mouth disease prevalent in Taiwan. Taiwan's semiofficial Central News Agency quoted the official as saying it was highly likely the infected cattle originated from China given Quemoy's proximity to the mainland and the habitual smuggling of agricultural goods between the two sides. At a news conference later in the day, however, Lee Chin-lung, head of the council's quarantine department, was more cautious. He said it is very difficult to determine whether the new strain is from China since Taiwan has no samples of hoof-and-mouth strains currently seen in the mainland for comparison. Lee said the virus detected in the Quemoy cattle is only 87% the same as Taiwan's most common type of hoof-and-mouth disease. Lai Hsiu-shui, a professor of animal husbandry at National Taiwan University, told the same news conference that due to virus mutation a new strain of hoof-and-mouth disease could emerge in Taiwan "at any time" and did not necessarily have to be imported from outside. Taiwan has not seen a case of hoof-and-mouth disease in cattle in 70 years, while China announced in mid-May outbreaks in cattle in Tibet, Hainan Island, and southern Fujian Province, which is located opposite Taiwan. Taiwan's hog farms, however, were hit by a hoof-and-mouth epidemic in 1997 that forced authorities to ban pork exports and destroy some three million diseased sows at contaminated farms to contain the disease. Last month, several hundred pigs had to be destroyed as hoof-and-mouth disease resurfaced in farms in Pingtung County in eastern Taiwan, Changhua in central Taiwan and on the Pescadores Islands in the Taiwan Strait. Meanwhile, Quemoy authorities sealed off the affected farm and started to kill all its 65 head of cattle. At the same time they started to vaccinate the isle's 3,000 cattle and some 2,000 sheep, while banning shipments of cloven-hoofed livestock and products from such animals from Quemoy to Taiwan proper. Between January and May, a total of 295 head of cattle were sent from Quemoy to Taiwan, including 55 from the infected farm. But government officials insist there was no risk of a spread of the disease, arguing all cattle had undergone strict quarantine controls before entering Taiwan proper. Island-wide farmers are raising some 160,000 head of

cattle, the lion's share of which are dairy cows. However, in contrast to hog farming, which is a major export industry, cattle are destined for domestic consumption.
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Publication:Asian Economic News
Geographic Code:9CHIN
Date:Jun 14, 1999
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