August 25, 2007 / 4:44 PM / 12 years ago

France extends farm restrictions due blue tongue

PARIS (Reuters) - The French Agriculture Ministry said on Saturday it had extended restrictions on livestock movements to 19 regions from 17 following the discovery of two new cases of blue tongue in animals near the German border.

The ministry said in a statement it had now notified 54 cases of the disease, which affects ruminants but not humans, to the European Commission and world animal health body OIE. It was not clear whether the new cases related to sheep or cattle.

Blue tongue causes fever and mouth ulcers and in some cases turns an animal’s tongue blue. It is transmitted by insects and can be dangerous to sheep and cows.

The disease is mostly found in Mediterranean countries such as Italy and those of North Africa, but has spread to northern Europe.

The Dutch agriculture ministry said on Wednesday it had extended movement restrictions to the whole of the Netherlands after the virus spread outside the existing restriction zone. It said 336 farms were affected, up from 268 just two days earlier.

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