Foot and mouth: US uses sniffer dogs to root out British imports as disease spreads

World Reaction
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The Independent Online

The world stepped up its controls on foot-and-mouth yesterday as further cases of the disease were found in Britain.

The world stepped up its controls on foot-and-mouth yesterday as further cases of the disease were found in Britain.

The United States has taken drastic action to prevent the disease from entering the country. Its agriculture department has placed its Beagle Brigade - a unit of 60 dogs that literally sniffs out contraband food entering the country - and about 1,800 animal health inspectors on "heightened alert" at immigration points.

In Europe, Amsterdam's Artis Zoo urged British visitors to stay away amid fears they might bring in foot-and-mouth disease. The call is intended to protect the elephants and the animals at the children's farm. The zoo's general curator, Hans van Weerd, said: "We are perhaps being overly cautious ... but we're not far from Schiphol airport, so we get quite a few people dropping by to wile away an hour or so."

The zoo has advised its staff not to go to Britain, and if this is unavoidable, then not to come to work for three days after their return.

As many French ports continued to disinfect the feet and cars of British travellers, a spokesman for the port of Calais, which processes up to 35,000 passengers a day over weekends, said there was evidence of a drop in numbers of tourists, although he could not give exact figures. Gerard Barron said: "We're fearful that there will fewer English people who come across."

France is not the only country disinfecting foreign visitors. Cars coming off the ferry at Hamburg, Germany, are subjected to a wash-down when they arrive. At some Italian airports, passengers must pass through disinfectant points.

Hungary rolled out its own "anti-epidemic carpet" at the country's only international passenger airport at Ferihegy, Budapest.

Meanwhile, preliminary tests on Finnish dairy cows for suspected foot-and-mouth yesterday proved negative.

Australian exports of kangaroo meat to eastern Europe have surged since the outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in Europe. Don Cairns, a senior Australian trade official, said kangaroo meat was seen as a safe and cheap alternative to beef. But he added that some Europeans were surprised that Australians sold their national symbol for food.

Mr Cairns told the Herald Sun newspaper: "They have seen it on the [Australian] coat of arms, so they are a little surprised. We have to tell them we have a lot of kangaroos to go around."

John Howard, the Prime Minister, said that Australia would try to boost beef salesto Europe in response to the foot-and-mouth outbreak.