|The Netherlands suspended exports of live ruminants late on August 17th after a sheep farm in the south of the country was infected by
so-called bluetongue virus, the Dutch agriculture ministry announced.
`A farm in Kerkrade has been hit by catarrhal fever,` the ministry said in a statement.
The authorities immediately halted exports of live ruminants -- cattle, sheep and goats -- and embryos, sperm and cells from those animals.
The freeze on exports might last for several weeks, the ministry said.
In an effort to contain the outbreak, ruminants as well as pigs and horses must be kept indoors within a 20-km (13-mile) radius of the infected farm and may not be transported.
Use of insecticides is obligatory in these places. [It is not clear why pigs and horses,
refractile to BT, are included in the restrictions. - Mod.AS]
A security zone was set up with a radius of 100 km (65 miles) around the farm, with no animal or living animal matter allowed in or out.
A further 50-km zone outside the security zone has been placed under surveillance.
Bluetongue is a non-contagious, insect-transmitted, viral disease of sheep, which is not known to affect humans, according to the European
Union food safety website.
The disease is characterised by inflammation of the mucous membranes, congestion, swelling and haemorrhages. Sheep are generally the worst
affected, while cattle and goats do not usually show any clinical signs of disease but can carry the virus for a certain period of time
and transmit it to sheep.
It is treated by restricting the movement of infected animals and through the use of vaccine.
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