Results from Carlow foot-and-mouth tests expected

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Preliminary results from tests on suspected cases of foot-and-mouth disease in a number of pigs delivered to a Co Carlow pig processing plant are now expected tomorrow.

Samples were sent to the Purbright laboratories near London yesterday after a veterinarian on duty at the plant in Ballon near Tullow detected symptoms.

The Department of Agriculture said the laboratory was able to carry out a range of tests not available in Ireland.  "It's a precautionary measure," said a spokesman.

He said the preliminary results of the tests would be available tomorrow.

"If it turns out to be positive, we would have to take appropriate action to prevent a possible spread."

Emergency procedures drawn up to prevent the spread of the disease when it broke out here in March 2001 were invoked and the farm from which the pigs originated was sealed off as a precautionary measure.

It is understood there was no question of the pigs having been imported from outside the country and investigations were ongoing today to determine what kind of feed they had received.

Full restrictions on the movement of animals and people in the area will be put in place later today if the samples prove positive.

An outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in Britain in 2001 was spread to Ireland in smuggled sheep and there were six outbreaks of the disease here, one in the Republic, on the Border with Co Armagh. All farm animals on the Cooley Peninsula were slaughtered and their bodies destroyed.

The swift action managed to prevent the spread of the disease to the rest of the State.