The United Nations food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has warned that foot-and-mouth disease is a global threat and has urged tougher counter measures. ‘Any country in the world might be contaminated,’ said Yves Chenuau, Chief of the FAO’s Animal Health Service and an expert on the disease. ‘When we look at the way the virus spreads, it’s very clear that every country is threatened.’
The FAO advocates stricter controls on immigrants and tourists, who it says increase the risks of spreading the disease, and on imports of foodstuffs, including those carried by travellers, and also on wastes from aircraft and ships.
The disease is caused by a variant of the virus aphtovirus and produces blisters in the mouths and on the feet of hoofed animals, such as cattle, sheep, goats and pigs. Some leading scientists in Britain say that the strain which has spread across the country and into mainland Europe had its origins in northern India in 1990.