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John Vidal in the Guardian Wednesday May 8, 2002

No drama in a crisis

April, at the height of Britain's foot and mouth crisis, Uruguay had a nasty dose of the same strain. As in Britain, the authorities in Uruguay banned animal movements and slaughtered infected beasts and others that were in contact with them. But three days later the disease was found to have spread. At this point, Uruguay departed from British practice and introduced a massive vaccination programme. Some 11m animals were injected twice. Although the disease spread to more than 2,000 farms, just like in Britain, it was totally eradicated in under four months and Uruguay was allowed to start exporting meat again to the EU and other countries shortly after. The epidemic cost the country very little. No supermarkets or trade federations in Uruguay tried to tell government that the public would not accept vaccinated meat, nor was there re-infection from "carrier" animals, or spread of the disease due to sheep with antibodies. Should Defra want advice on how to avoid tears and massive compensation payments, calls for public inquiries, bankruptcies, ill-feeling, loss of earnings and meltdown in communities in future, Eco soundings suggests they call the Uruguayan embassy.