Saturday, August 4, 2007

Cattle at a farm in Surrey, UK have tested positive for foot-and-mouth disease. After symptoms were reported late on 2 August, the farm was isolated. Following testing, officials from Defra (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) confirmed the outbreak on 3 August.

A three kilometre exclusion zone and a ten kilometre surveillance zone have been put into place around the farm, near Wanborough. All livestock on the farm have been slaughtered and incinerated. Any movement of livestock in the UK has been banned and the EU has banned exports under emergency measures, expected to be confirmed on Monday. Farmers are urged to watch their animals carefully for symptoms, and report any to Defra officials.

The government’s emergency committee Cobra met to discuss the situation before the announcement, with Prime Minister Gordon Brown participating via telephone. Brown cut short his holiday in Dorset to return to London on Saturday, when another meeting of Cobra was held. Environment Secretary Hilary Benn also returned from holiday in Italy.

The last outbreak of foot-and-mouth in the UK was in 2001. It resulted in the slaughtering of up to 7 million animals, and losses estimated at £8 billion.

In France, the government has asked for all the animals imported during the last ten days to be tested. All meetings including animals have been forbidden on the French territory.

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