AMSTERDAM, Netherlands -- The Dutch government said Wednesday it had confirmed the first cases of foot-and-mouth disease in the Netherlands, making it the second country on the European continent to detect the livestock ailment.
Tests concluded that four cows had contracted the disease on a farm near Olst, in the eastern part of the country. All 60 head of cattle and 20 sheep were being destroyed immediately.
The government swiftly reinstated a nationwide ban on transporting livestock that had been lifted just two days earlier, and extended it to cover chickens.
Authorities also said that about 500 goats on a neighboring farm were slaughtered after foot-and-mouth symptoms were detected last weekend. Final results of blood tests were not expected until Friday, but Agriculture Ministry spokeswoman Martina de Ham said, "The symptoms were so obvious that they leave no doubt."
In France, the site of the previous confirmed case in mainland Europe, the Agriculture Ministry said Tuesday that tests of 224 herds had not revealed any further cases and just six farms remained under quarantine.
Britain, where the disease was first detected a month ago, faced 395 confirmed cases of foot-and-mouth disease. The government pledged Wednesday to speed up the process of destroying infected animals.
Forty-five new cases of the livestock ailment were confirmed Tuesday, the highest one-day tally yet, and the European Union extended its ban on exports of British livestock and meat until April 4.
Veterinary experts from European Union nations were to meet Wednesday in Brussels, Belgium and were likely to issue the same restrictions on Dutch animal and meat exports as have been imposed on France and Britain in recent weeks.
EU spokeswoman Beate Gminder said the European Commission regretted the news from the Dutch government, but added: "We are still confident that the disease can be contained."
She added the EU "will keep under review" the possibility of a vaccination program to stem the spreading of the highly contagious disease.
Four areas in the Netherlands were placed under quarantine, including a slaughterhouse and a farm in the south, de Ham said. A 6 1/4-mile radius around the areas was closed.
Dutch farmers already have destroyed thousands of cattle, sheep, goats and deer imported from Britain and France as a precaution.
Britain's Prince Charles, himself a gentleman farmer, canceled an Austrian skiing holiday to show solidarity with farmers hit by the disease.
"He doesn't want to go on that kind of holiday at the moment, given everything that is going on with foot-and-mouth," said a spokeswoman for the prince's St. James's Palace office.
Encouraging a back-to-business attitude for Britain's devastated countryside, the government announced an advertising campaign to lure visitors back and said canals, 350 historic properties and possibly some footpaths would be reopened. Ministers also unveiled a program of tax relief for rural businesses hit by the disease.
So far 223,000 animals have been killed in the United Kingdom, and about 125,000 others marked for destruction, the Ministry of Agriculture said.
The epidemic has shut British livestock out of markets worldwide, and put its European trading partners on alert.
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