(Edited from Xinhua, Tokyo) The Japanese government admitted Tuesday that the outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) in cattle in Miyazaki Prefecture, on the eastern coast of the island of Kyushu, southern Japan, could have been detected earlier.

Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama conceded prior to Miyazaki Governor Hideo Higashikokubaru declaring a state of emergency over the outbreak Tuesday that local authorities overlooked the infection during an on-site inspection of a farm in Miyazaki in March.

(Edited from Xinhua, Tokyo) The Japanese government admitted Tuesday that the outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) in cattle in Miyazaki Prefecture, on the eastern coast of the island of Kyushu, southern Japan, could have been detected earlier.

Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama conceded prior to Miyazaki Governor Hideo Higashikokubaru declaring a state of emergency over the outbreak Tuesday that local authorities overlooked the infection during an on-site inspection of a farm in Miyazaki in March.

“The government will be united in working to avert further expansion of the infections, especially so people in the Kyushu area will feel safe,” he added.

A task force was set up to help prevent the further spread of the disease that may have infected as many as 114,000 cows, pigs and other livestock at more than 126 farms – the losses of which will amount to 16 billion yen (173.10 million U.S. dollars), according to an official with a local agricultural cooperative. The central government is still at a loss as to why the disease is spreading so rampantly.

Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Hirotaka Akamatsu added that the central government will consider taking ”all-out” measures to stem the spread of the infections.

Akamatsu did not rule out the use of vaccines or the culling of livestock in infected farms as a means to prevent the disease from spreading further. He did say however the measures would not include the slaughter of livestock across the entire prefecture.

Miyazaki is Japan’s second-largest pig-farming region, accounting for about 9.2 percent of the nation’s herd. The prefecture is also the third-biggest beef cattle producer, accounting for 10 percent of the country’s total herd of 2.9 million.

The government may spend as much as 20 billion yen (216 million U.S. dollars) on measures to prevent the spread of the disease and to help affected farmers rebuild their businesses.

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