Latest UK foot-and-mouth cases linked to earlier ones

Sep 13, 2007 (CIDRAP News) – British officials who are investigating the latest outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) said today that initials tests show the virus strain matches the strain found in outbreaks that surfaced in late July at two nearby farms.

The focus of the outbreaks is an area in Surrey on the outskirts of London. The two earlier incidents are believed to have been caused by FMD virus that leaked from wastewater drains at a laboratory facility in nearby Pirbright. The facility houses a commercial FMD vaccine producer and a government-funded research institute.

The United Kingdom's Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), in a statement today, said initial virus sequencing indicates the virus in the new outbreak is type 01 BFS67, the same strain found in the earlier outbreaks. The latest cases were confirmed yesterday.

The current outbreak site is a farm near the town of Egham, about 10 miles from the two earlier outbreaks, the London Telegraph reported yesterday. Cattle on the farm were culled, and protection and surveillance zones were set up around the area, DEFRA reported.

DEFRA said yesterday that animals on a farm next to the infected site would be destroyed as a precautionary measure.

FMD is an extremely contagious disease that affects cattle, sheep, pigs, and other ruminants, causing sores in the mouth and on the hooves. The debilitating condition does not usually kill adult animals, but it drastically reduces milk production. The disease very rarely affects humans, according to DEFRA.

In the two earlier FMD outbreaks, which were confirmed in early August, veterinary authorities culled nearly 600 animals to control the spread of the disease. A massive outbreak in Britain in 2001 led to the destruction of 7 million cattle to stop the disease.

See also:

Sep 12 CIDRAP News story "UK reports another foot-and-mouth outbreak"

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