October 31, 2007 / 9:34 AM / 10 years ago

Cyprus says foot and mouth not proven in early test

NICOSIA (Reuters) - Cyprus on Wednesday said initial tests had failed to verify a suspected outbreak of foot and mouth disease at a farm on the island.

Authorities have quarantined a farm in the south of the island after sheep showed symptoms of the debilitating and highly contagious disease last week.

“The first indications we have from the laboratory is that it does not appear to be foot and mouth, but that does not mean it is the conclusive result,” Agriculture Minister Photis Photiou said.

Conclusive results were expected from Britain on Wednesday afternoon, he said.

A foot and mouth outbreak would have a devastating effect on Cyprus’s animal husbandry industry with up to 115,000 animals facing a cull. The disease, which is airborne, is harmless to humans.

Farmers say the sheep affected probably fell ill by consuming sumac, a shrub which grows in the wild.

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