Source AP ©

New foot-and-mouth outbreaks cause slaughtering of 1,500 sheep in Cyprus

Cyprus began slaughtering about 1,500 sheep after confirmed foot-and-mouth disease in two more farms.

Fotis Fotiou said the EU-accredited lab in Pirbright, England, confirmed the new outbreaks of the highly contagious virus Tuesday.

Authorities planned to destroy 1,500 animals from one farm in the livestock breeding area of Dromolaxia and slaughter another 70 from another farm on Thursday.

"(Farmers) must understand that whatever measures are taken, even slaughtering animals, they are taken to prevent the worst," Fotiou said.

Some 560 goats, sheep and pigs have already been slaughtered in the Dromolaxia area since tests from the Pirbright lab confirmed the infection at four farms on Nov. 5.

EU food safety experts have imposed a ban on livestock, meat and dairy exports from Cyprus because of the outbreak, but made an exception for the island's famed halloumi cheese.

Cyprus is not a major meat exporter, but halloumi is one of the country's key farm exports, along with potatoes and citrus fruits.

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