Ban on importation of animals and animal products to Ireland after foot and mouth disease outbreak in England.

Following confirmation of the disease at an abattoir near Brentwood in Essex, the Irish government has banned imports of meat, dairy products and live animals from Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom. Staff at ports and airports have been put on alert and Garda authorities requested to give their full support to the ban. People going to the UK have been asked not to visit farms and not to bring agricultural produce back to Ireland.

Minister of State for Agriculture Noel Davern said that it was vital that there was full commitment by everybody to ensure that foot and mouth is kept out of Ireland.

The last outbreak of foot and mouth in Britain was in 1967 when restrictions were placed on travel and trade between the Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom. Internal movement within the Republic of Ireland was also curtailed and people had to disinfect their footwear on entering public buildings.

The Republic of Ireland has been free of Foot and Mouth since 1941.

Foot and Mouth is highly infectious and it affects goats and sheep as well as cattle.

Symptoms of the disease include lameness and mouth blisters. While it rarely kills, animals stop gaining weight and production in dairy cattle falls. Humans are rarely infected and infection is temporary and mild.

People don't become infected from eating contaminated animals.

An RTÉ News report broadcast on 21 February 2001. The reporter is Joe O’Brien.