Spread of Foot and Mouth Disease Suspected In UK
Aug 6, 2007
London, 6 August -- The British governments' Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has discovered another herd of cattle showing symptoms of Foot and Mouth disease after a lab accidentally released some of the virus.
The find comes as scientists search for infected cattle within a recently established Protection Zone in Surrey, in Southeast England.
Scientists said today they believe they've identified a further herd of cattle whichhave clinical signs of Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD).
In response, the government has ordered the slaughter of suspected infected cattle, says Debby Reynolds, Chief Veterinary Officer in the UK. 97 animals were destroyed today.
Reynolds says killing of infected animals will begin as soon as possible. Meanwhile blood samples have been taken to UK labs for testing to confirm disease.
Reynolds called on ranchers to watch for cattle with FMD symptoms and tried to calm fears. "The intensive work of Animal Health has meant that we have been able to rapidly identify this suspect case and take appropriate action swiftly. I continue to urge all animal keepers to be vigilant for signs of disease and practice strict biosecurity."
UK officials say disease surveillance is ongoing and reassure the public that foot and mouth disease in humans is rare. Officials point out that Foot and Mouth is a disease of cattle and very few human cases have ever been recorded even though the disease is endemic in animals in many parts of the world including Asia, Africa, the Middle East and South America.
Foot and mouth disease only crosses the species barrier from cattle to human with very great difficulty. The last human case reported in Britain occurred
in 1966. The disease in humans, in the very rare cases that have occurred,
is mild, short-lived and requires no medical treatment.
For more information:
Note: The DEFRA public helpline is currently operating from 6am-10pm in the UK. The public should call: 08459 335577.