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Authorities order culling of pregnant goats in q-fever battle

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

THE HAGUE – To contain the highly contagious Q-bacteria, Dutch authorities will be culling about 34,500 pregnant goats. Also, many thousands of male goats were slated to be killed in the drive to rid the country of the bacteria, which has caused controversy for several years now. Unpregnant goats will be vaccinated, but, warn authorities, these animals cannot be used for breeding. The culling will only take place on farms where the Q fever has been diagnosed. The Q-fever bacterium spreads when infected animals give birth to lambs. Male goats pass it along through their semen. Dutch authorities have decreed a stop to breeding goats until July 1, 2010 and were persuaded by the country’s top microbiologist to cull all pregnant animals because the Q-bacteria also is a serious risk to humans. This year, the bacteria, with six known fatalities, sickened nearly 2300 people.