British authorities have temporarily banned most livestock transports, including pigs, after two cases of Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) were reported in cattle in the southern county of Surrey.
The UK Department of Forestry and Rural Affairs (Defra) went red alert last Friday when a total of 39 animals were tested positive at a farm in the village of Normandy, near Guildford. This morning a second farm was confirmed contaminated in that same region.
As a consequence, 120 animals had to be culled so far.
UK authorities immediately banned all transports of even-toed ungulates as from last Saturday.
In addition, the European Union prohibited export of all livestock and dairy products from all of the UK, except for Northern Ireland. Only products manufactured prior to July 15th, can be exported.
As the disease also affects pigs, sheep and goats, increased measures apply to a large number of facilites in the livestock industry.
So far, British authorities, including EU welfare commissioner Markos Kyprianou , claim the outbreak is an incident, and not a massive outbreak like in 2001, when many animals in the UK had to be culled.
Experts claim the outbreak could be due to a specific, not-finished and ‘slow’ strain which is under development in two FMD laboratories in nearby Pirbright.
At the laboratories, Merial Animal Health is developing a new vaccin against FMD.
It is unclear how the virus got to the farms – it is suggested that this could be due to the massive floods of the last couple of weeks or possibly to a human error.
The outbreak has reintroduced the discussion on whether animals in the EU should be vaccinated against the disease.
More information on how the disease could spread is expected in the course of the day.
Related news items:
â€¢ FMD outbreak causes vigilance in Europe (7 August 2007)
Related web sites:
â€¢ Merial Animal Health
â€¢ British Department of Forestry and Rural Affairs (Defra)
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