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Japan suspends beef exports following foot mouth outbreak
May 23, 2010
9:48 am
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Japan suspends beef exports following outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease

TOKYO, -- Japan temporarily suspended beef exports on Tuesday after a possible case of foot-and-mouth disease was found in cattle in Miyazaki Prefecture in southern Japan, government officials said.

The Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry opted to take the precautionary measure after the local Miyazaki government announced that three cows were suspected of being infected with the virus.

"The government will take every measure to prevent the disease from spreading further," said farm minister Hirotaka Akamatsu at a news conference.

"The disease will do no harm to humans even if they eat beef from infected cows," he said.

Japan exported nearly 600 tonnes of beef in the fiscal year ended March 31, worth about 3.95 billion yen (42.66 million U.S. dollars).

"Japan has exported beef to such countries as China," said the farm minister adding that Japan's beef exports are limited to mainly the Asian market and each country will be consulted about the lifting of the suspension on a case-by-case basis.

According to the Miyazaki prefecture government, a veterinarian found an ulcer in the mouth of one of 16 cows at a farm in the area on April 9 and two other cows were found to have ulcers on Saturday.

Preliminary investigations have shown that the three cows tested positive for the virus and if confirmed would mark the first case of the virus in Japan since 2000.

Sixteen cows are to be destroyed at the Miyazaki farm and a safe-zone set up to control and monitor the movement of livestock and shipments in the area.

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