DUBLIN -- Parts of Europe are in a tizzy over hoof-and-mouth
disease. But don't worry, it's not contagious to humans.
The disease, which is affecting cloven-hoofed animals like pigs
and cows, is threatening to bring Britain's farming community to
ruin and has government agriculture officials worried from Ireland
to Italy to France.
From a tourism perspective, there are some potential
ramifications. If the crisis, which so far has affected a dozen
British farms, continues and worsens, spring walking and hiking
tours in the countryside might have to be curtailed. That's because
the disease is airborne and can be transmitted to animals in other
countries on the clothing and cars of people coming out of a
Already, cars from certain parts of Britain, including Devon and
Northumberland, are being disinfected at roadblocks.
City dwellers in Britain are being asked to stay out of the
countryside altogether until the crisis abates, and some sporting
events have been canceled. Authorities are considering now whether
to cancel the famous Cheltenham horse race, scheduled for late
In Ireland, imports of cattle and farm equipment from the
British-controlled north have been banned.
On the Continent, government officials are poised to take action
should the disease spread across the English Channel.
Travelers to France almost certainly will be subject to
disinfectant procedures at airports and seaports. People's shoes
can be rid of the airborne disease by walking on disinfectant
But human precautions might not do the trick -- the disease also
is carried by the wind.