Japan confirms first F.M.D. outbreak in decade

by Bryan Salvage
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TOKYO, JAPAN –An outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease at a farm in the southern Japan prefecture of Miyazaki, which is the first outbreak since 2000 in this nation that is famous for premium beef, has been confirmed by the National Institute of Animal Health, according to Bloomberg.

Japan reported three more suspected cases at nearby farms since finding the first suspected case. As one of the most contagious animal diseases, this virus can lead to high mortality rates in young animals, according to the World Organization for Animal Health (O.I.E.). However, consuming infected meat doesn’t harm humans.

“The outbreak may have little impact on the Japanese beef market, including demand,” said Susumu Harada, senior director at the U.S. Meat Export Federation in Tokyo. Still, “exporters of meat and by-products may have difficulty as the country banned exports.”

From April 2009 to February 2010, Japan exported 594 metric tons of beef and imported 432,613 tons. Vietnam, Hong Kong, the U.S. and Singapore are major export markets for Japan’s premium beef.

Japan’s last outbreak of the disease was in 2000, when the country slaughtered 740 head of cattle. In April 2000, an official said Japan’s first outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in 92 years had been contained and caused little damage to the country’s 500 billion yen ($4.8 billion) domestic beef industry.

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