MIYAKONOJO, Japan, June 10 (UPI) -- Highly contagious foot-and-mouth disease is now in Japan's largest beef and pork producing city, threatening the nation's livestock industry, officials said.
The 208 infected head of cattle at a cattle farm in Miyakonojo, in Miyazaki Prefecture, on the island of Kyushu, "shows a failed effort by the central and local governments to contain the epidemic devastating local livestock," Kyodo News agency reported.
The latest figures, released Thursday, raise to about 158,600 the number of infected animals, Atsushi Tachi of the agriculture ministry's animal health division told the news agency.
"We've reached a critical point, a perilous point," Prime Minister Naoto Kan said at a meeting. "I understand that an immediate response is of paramount importance and would like to tackle the problem with a sense of urgency."
The central government said it would send 30 soldiers and 140 police officers to the prefecture to strengthen disinfection work at farms and national highways.
Foot-and-mouth is a highly contagious and sometimes fatal viral disease of cloven-hoofed animals, including cattle, pigs, sheep and goats.
Miyazaki produced $165 million in beef in 2006, the latest year reported, and $247 million in pork.
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