FMD strikes the UK – again

13-09-2007 | |
FMD strikes the UK – again

Just days after Britain declared it was free of foot-and-mouth disease, last night the farming industry was shocked by the return of the disease after it was found in a cow.

It was reported that the Queen closed off the majority of Windsor Great Park to the public, which is inside the 10km surveillance zone.

The farming community was up in arms by the return of the highly infectious disease, which had been found in two herds last month. They said the Government was in the wrong to give the all-clear on Friday.

Currently, a farm at Stroude has been hit with the disease, situated near Egham, ten miles north of the Pirbright research laboratory blamed for the August outbreak.

Tory MP Philip Hammond, who represents the Runnymede and Weybridge constituency, which includes Egham, said the current case of the disease raised fears about whether the disease may be able to lie dormant for longer periods than previously thought.

He said if the latest case was linked to the previous outbreak, the first question to consider was why the restrictions on moving livestock were lifted.

Latest outbreak

There have been tests on a pig at a farm in Hindolveston, Norfolk, after animals displayed symptoms of the disease. Scientists believe deer could have been harbouring the disease over the last few weeks, which could be a possible cause.

Livestock producers fear that the latest outbreak could cost the British farming industry about £2m a day in lost sales of meat, dairy and other products.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown called a meeting of the emergency committee Cobra yesterday. He said that authorities would do ‘everything in our power’ to eradicate the disease and to track down the source of the latest outbreak in Egham. Government vets were called to the farm on Tuesday after cows showed symptoms of the disease. 

The EU lifted its ban on British meat from the part of Surrey affected by last month’s outbreak. However, yesterday, the Commission declared Britain a high-risk area again, and brought back its export ban on sheep, cattle and pigs, lamb, beef and pork. 

“The immediate establishment of both a protection zone, with footpaths closed within it, and a national animal movement ban shows our determination to contain and eradicate this latest outbreak,” said Environment Secretary Hilary Benn.

Peter Kendall, president of the National Farmers Union, said the latest case would have “enormous” ramifications for farmers.

Six million animals were culled in the 2001 foot-and-mouth outbreak.

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