Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Second Herd Tests Positive for Foot-and-Mouth Disease in Britain

Not good...

From FNC:
Tests confirmed a second outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease southwest of London, Britain's environment secretary said Tuesday, raising fears the highly contagious virus could spread to herds across southern England.

A second batch of cows, tested late Monday, were within the initial 2-mile-radius protection zone set up Friday around the farm where a first group of infected cattle was found, Environment Secretary Hilary Benn said.

The outbreak, 30 milessouthwest of London, occurred just 4 miles from a laboratory that produces vaccines containing the same rarely seen strain of foot-and-mouth disease, officials said.

Benn was expecting an initial report Tuesday following checks to see whether there have been breaches in security or safety at the laboratory, which is the focus of investigations into the outbreak.

News of a second confirmed outbreak fed fears of a repeat of scenes in 2001, when 7 million animals were culled and incinerated on pyres, devastating agriculture and rural tourism in Britain.[snip]

The vaccine laboratory is shared by the government's Institute for Animal Health, or IAH, and a private pharmaceutical company, Merial Animal Health, the British arm of Duluth, Georgia-based Merial Ltd.

Merial said it found no evidence of a breach in biosecurity, and the IAH claimed a check of records found "limited use" of the virus in the past four weeks.

Foot-and-mouth disease affects cloven-hoofed animals, including cows, sheep, pigs and goats, but does not typically affect humans.

The prime minister, who broke off a vacation to handle a response to the outbreak, said investigators were trying to pinpoint the cause of the outbreak — but acknowledged that the disease strain found in the first infected herd was the same used at the research laboratory.

National Farmers' Union president Peter Kendall said the latest case was "not entirely unexpected," given the nature of the disease.

The first herd of around 120 cows from a farm in Normandy, outside Guildford, was slaughtered Saturday after the virus was identified and confirmed in two animals, the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said.

A farmer first noticed signs of illness in his cows on July 29 and notified authorities on Thursday, according to a government report filed to the World Organization for Animal Health.

Britain has banned the export of livestock, meat and milk — a decision endorsed by the European Commission. The commission also backed London's decision to halt the movement of cattle, sheep, goats and pigs nationwide to prevent the spread of the virus.

Imports of British pigs and pork products have been banned by the United States, Japan, Russia and South Korea in response to the outbreak. The United States and Japan already have bans in place on British beef imports.
I hope this is a small contained outbreak, it broke my heart to hear about all those animals being destroyed last time.

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