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Foot-and-mouth disease spreads to Gaza Strip

A cow is seen livestock farm Rafah southern GazStrip Wednesday May 2 2012.  (AP Photo/Eyad Baba)

A cow is seen at livestock farm in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, Wednesday, May 2, 2012. (AP Photo/Eyad Baba)

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GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — A U.N. agency says Egypt’s outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease has reached neighboring Gaza Strip and could soon spread across the Middle East.

The Rome-based Food and Agriculture Organization said Wednesday the disease was detected in Gaza’s southern border town of Rafah on April 19.

Juan Lubroth, FAO’s chief veterinary officer, says vaccines are in short supply and animal movement must be limited. He says the disease risks spreading to the Gulf, southern and eastern Europe and further.

The disease is not a direct threat to humans, but meat and milk from sick animals are unsafe for consumption.

Zakaria Kafarna of Gaza’s Agriculture Ministry says the situation is under control. He says livestock imports from Egypt have stopped, and officials are vaccinating thousands of animals.

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