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The news from Iraq is just getting worse. How can our Government be so irresponsible in repeatedly vetoing any political moves towards dialogue with Iraq or some lifting of the sanctions as a reward for what has been achieved. Iraq must be desperate to allow the Inspectors to destroy a vaccine laboratory. Livestock Epidemic Threatens Iraq By Vijay Joshi Associated Press Writer Thursday, January 28, 1999; 2:42 p.m. EST BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) -- Hoof-and-mouth disease has crippled at least 1 million sheep and cattle in Iraq and the lack of vaccines for the highly contagious disease threatens the country's livestock, a U.N. official said Thursday. The implications of the disease are catastrophic, the official said: Farmers could be ruined, and meat and milk could become even more scarce in a country where 8 1/2 years of U.N. economic sanctions have already made shortages commonplace. At least 50,000 animals -- mostly lambs, kids and calves -- have died from the viral disease, the official told The Associated Press. He spoke on condition of anonymity. In an earlier interview, the representative of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization in Iraq, Amir Khalil, said almost all of Iraq's 18 provinces have suffered outbreaks of the sickness, known also as foot-and-mouth disease. ``We have to take it seriously. If we don't contain it as soon as possible, it might become an epidemic,'' he said. Because grazing herds wander across borders, the danger extends beyond Iraq and into neighboring countries. The virus also clings to clothes and farming equipment and can drift as far as 30 miles in the air. Hoof-and-mouth disease affects cloven-hoofed animals. It eats away at the skin on tongues and lips and causes lesions on feet. Infected animals are left unable to eat or walk, and they lose weight and their ability to reproduce. Newborn animals that drink milk from their infected mothers usually die. The disease is seldom transmitted to humans. The first U.N. official said the number of infected animals is increasing daily and noted that the Iraq government does not have the resources to stop the disease from spreading. The government has exhausted its reserve of 250,000 vaccine dosages. Impoverished by the embargo imposed after Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait, it has no money to buy more. To prevent an epidemic, Iraq needs 3 million doses -- worth $3 million -- as an emergency quick-fix, plus an additional 12 million doses later, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization. The U.N. body is trying to organize delivery of at least 1 million vaccines. The outbreak of hoof-and-mouth disease is especially painful because Iraq had eradicated the virus years ago and even produced its own vaccines for it. Iraq used to prepare the vaccines at a laboratory in the capital, Baghdad, and export them for use on farms throughout the Middle East. Iraqi farmers used to vaccinate animals three times a year, one dose more than the required minimum. However, the vaccine laboratory was destroyed in 1993 by the U.N. commission set up after the 1991 Persian Gulf War to ensure that Iraq eliminates its weapons of mass destruction. The commission feared the facility could be used to help manufacture biological or chemical arms. Iraqis have not vaccinated their livestock against hoof-and-mouth disease since then. The outbreak was first reported 1 1/2 months ago. Since then, 982,000 sheep and 50,000 cattle have been reported infected. In addition, 48,000 newborn lambs and 3,000 calves have died, the official said. But many of Iraq's remaining 7 million farm animals are likely to become infected: The virus is so contagious that once an animal is infected, there is no escape for its companions in the herd. © Copyright 1999 The Associated Press Mark Parkinson -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- This is a discussion list run by Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To be removed/added, email email@example.com, NOT the whole list. Archived at http://linux.clare.cam.ac.uk/~saw27/casi/discuss.html