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Japan halts imports of Australian cattle due to Johne's disease

Staff writer |
The Japanese government said Thursday that it has halted imports of Australian cattle owning to Johne's disease being detected in dairy cows that were imported in May.

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According to the farm ministry, the suspension of live cattle from Australia came into effect last Friday, but does not effect cattle used for beef products.

The ministry added that the suspension of the import of live cattle will continue until the relevant Australian authorities can determine the cause of the contagious animal disease.

The infection occurs in the first few months of an animal's life however the infected animal may appear healthy after being infected for a long time.

The symptoms of Johne's disease may not become apparent for some months or even years after an animal has been infected, sources with knowledge of the matter said.

The highly contagious infection, they added, can be passed from one animal to another.

Johne's disease occurs most frequently in domestic agriculture herds and has been found to be particularly prevalent in cows, sheep, goats, deer, antelope, and bison.

But the disease is most commonly found in dairy cattle because they are more frequently exposed to the organism that causes Johne's disease, experts on the matter said.

The farm ministry said Thursday that the cows that were imported from Australia for milk and tested positive for the disease are currently under quarantine.

According to official statistics quoted by local media, 348 cattle for dairy purposes were imported from Australia in 2014, and just over 10,000 for beef in the same year.

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