Hoof-and-Mouth Disease in England

Sandwiches Target for Foot-and-Mouth
By BURT HERMAN / Associated Press Writer

BERLIN (AP) -- German officials placed British sandwiches under
suspicion Tuesday as possible carriers of foot-and-mouth disease --
along with all other meat and milk products -- confiscating uneaten
food from passengers arriving on flights from Britain at airports
across the country.

Hunting trophies and other items made from skin or hides also were
placed on the warning list. Authorities insist the extra precautions,
including spot checks and specially marked trash cans, aren' t

" There is a potential risk that the virus can be carried by food, "
said Thomas Kossmann, veterinarian for the border control post at
Berlin' s Tegel airport.

Barely recovering from a government crisis that erupted after mad cow
disease hit Germany last November, officials here are doing everything
they can to appear vigilant against foot-and-mouth disease.

Germany has ordered the slaughter of hundreds of animals sent from
Britain, and tests released Tuesday showed some of those sheep had
indeed been exposed to others with foot-and-mouth disease. France
announced Tuesday it would destroy 20, 000 sheep imported from Britain
in February.

Officials acknowledged the new airport checks can' t prevent the
highly contagious virus from being carried in on the shoes of people
who might have been on infected British farms. The disease almost
never affects humans, and German officials stressed that transported
livestock pose a greater danger of spreading infection.

German livestock markets will stay closed for a week starting
Wednesday under an emergency measure agreed on by state and federal

At Tegel airport, signs addressed " Dear Tourist!!!" in English and
German greeted passengers after they collected their luggage from a
British Airways flight from London, asking that all meat and milk
products be thrown into a special blue and yellow trash container.

" This disease is not transmissible to man, but it is a highly
infectious virus disease, which can cause heavy economic losses
regarding the susceptible animal species and therefore always
necessitates restrictions, " the sign reads.

Among items tossed out Tuesday were two white bags labeled " Deli, "
each containing a bagel sealed in plastic wrap with lox and cream
cheese -- the cream cheese being the item of concern as a milk

Similar controls have been put in place at Frankfurt airport,
continental Europe' s busiest, and also in Munich and Hamburg. The
German Finance Ministry, the federal agency in charge of customs, said
there has been no nationwide order for the measures, leaving the
decision up to state authorities.

Since the disease can be spread from simple contact or even through
the air, officials in Berlin acknowledged the precautions were partly
done for public relations and that they couldn' t check every
passenger arriving from Britain.

Passengers coming off the London flight at Tegel appeared bewildered
that they were being asked to surrender their leftover lunch -- and a
British-made lunch at that.

" Why would anyone want to pick up food in England anyway?" one
American passenger quipped, declining to give his name out of fear of
offending British business associates. (PROFILE (CO:British Airways;

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