In a bid to protect its beef exportsthe Argentine government concealed an outbreak of the foot-and-mouth disease for monthsaccording to media reports. This disclosure was followed by an immediate ban of Argentine beef by the usthe European Union and other countries. The country's agriculture minister and the head of the animal sanitation authority were forced to resign despite officials refuting the media reportswhich allege that the outbreak had been detected in December 2000 and by January 2001 the government had secretly begun vaccinating thousands of livestock. "We were at least not officially aware of any cases before the recent outbreak in the uk" said Eduardo Grecoacting director of the National Sanitary and Agricultural Quality Control Service. "It is simple that they are lying. The authorities were vaccinating everybody's cattle in January" said Enrique Kleina cattle executive at a ranch northwest of Buenos Aires. He claimed that as soon as ranchers of Santa Fe region detected the first few cases of the diseasethey had informed the authorities.
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