Mozzarella made from water buffalo is one of Italy's most important exports. Now that product is threatened. There has been an outbreak of Brucellosis, which is a bacterial disease affecting livestock. It leads to infertility, abortion and reduced milk production. It is estimated that up to 30% of the herd in the Naples area have been infected.
Though the Italian government has set up a commission to try to stop the spread of the disease, they are planning to begin slaughtering 32,000 infected water buffalo in the next two months. Apparently the problem has gotten bad in large part because the local mafia prevented the early cases from coming to light. Now the government is sending in armed police along with government veterinarians to get rid of the infected livestock.
This is a crisis for the farmers and makers of mozzarella di bufala. They are responsible for one of Italy's biggest exports, but they're about to lose a sizable portion of the water buffalo herds. Also, the disease may be transmitted to humans, so there may be some kind of scare. The cheese is actually safe to eat if the milk used to make it is pasteurized. Just look for pasteurized mozzarella di bufala and you will be fine.
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