Iowa Public Television


UK Foot-And-Mouth Same As August Strain

posted on September 14, 2007

LONDON -- Britain's latest foot-and-mouth outbreak is the same strain as last month's, according to initial test results Thursday that gave farmers hope the disease could be contained in a small region. If the strain turns out to be different, Britain's farmers _ who have already suffered from the earlier outbreak as well as floods this summer _ could lose more of their livestock. In a larger outbreak in 2001, thousands of cattle, sheep and pig carcasses were burned on large pyres across the country. The farming industry lost millions in revenue. A nationwide ban for the movement of livestock is in effect. The EU has also suspended all British livestock movement. "The whole of England is back at a standstill. This is very bad news for the British farming industry," Sally Shepherd, a farmer in Surrey, told the British Broadcasting Corp. Restrictions on the cattle industry had only been lifted for five days, when the latest case of foot-and-mouth was discovered in cattle grazing in the county of Surrey, about 10 miles from the laboratory that was linked to the August outbreak. The government denied claims that the country's chief veterinarian, Debby Reynolds, was pressured by political and economic interests to lift restrictions early following the first outbreak of the disease in August. "This was a decision that was made on the basis of scientific evidence," Prime Minister Gordon Brown's official spokesman, Michael Ellam, told reporters. The government said it waited 30 days after confirming the last known case of the disease before giving the all clear. Foot-and-mouth has an incubation period of between two and 14 days in animals. But it can survive for up to 50 days in water and can be transferred by tractors and other farm vehicles. Some experts said the government should vaccinate animals to prevent the spread, not simply rely on slaughter. "You attempted to control this by slaughter policy alone, it clearly has failed," said Robin Maynard, a spokesman for the Soil Association, an independent group that certifies organic farms. But if the government decides to vaccinate the animals, it would take longer to resume crucial meat exports to the EU. The government set up a six-mile containment zone around the farm near Egham that includes Heathrow Airport and Queen Elizabeth II's Windsor Castle. Egham is 25 miles from London. The August outbreak was centered near the government-funded Institute for Animal Health, a diagnostic laboratory, and vaccine maker Merial Animal Health, a British unit of the U.S.-French pharmaceutical firm Merial Ltd. The government imposed a nationwide ban on all livestock movement, and ordered the slaughter of 300 cattle and pigs in the affected area, Reynolds said. The European Union imposed its own ban on livestock movements from Britain.

Tags: agriculture animals beef diseases England food safety livestock meat news