tampabay.com

Foot-and-mouth outbreak prompts British export ban

By ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published August 5, 2007


WANBOROUGH, England - Britain raced to avert economic disaster Saturday by halting meat and dairy exports and the movement of livestock around the country after foot-and-mouth disease was found on a southern English farm.

The strain of the highly infectious disease found was identical to one used at a nearby government-funded laboratory that is researching vaccines for the virus, Britain's environment agency said Saturday. Officials are still investigating other possible sources, the country's chief veterinarian said.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown vowed to work "night and day" to avoid a repeat of a 2001 outbreak, when millions of dead animals were burned on pyres, swaths of the countryside were closed, rural tourism was badly hurt and British meat was shut out of international markets.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said Britain had banned the export of live cattle, pigs, sheep and goats, as well as carcasses, meat and milk.

The United States and Japan immediately banned British pigs and pork products in response to the outbreak. British beef is already banned in both countries because of mad-cow disease.

The European Union was also likely to announce a ban on British livestock imports in the 27-nation bloc when its executive body meets on Monday.

British authorities also imposed a nationwide ban on transporting cattle, sheep, goats and pigs in response to the outbreak.

The department said animals on a farm near Wanborough, about 30 miles southwest of London, had tested positive for the disease. Officials did not specify how many animals were infected, but said all livestock on the farm were slaughtered and incinerated.

Fast Facts:

Foot-and-mouth disease

The disease causes fever and blister-like lesions on the mouths, teats and hooves of affected animals. It can be deadly in livestock but is harmless to humans. Although many animals recover, the disease leaves them debilitated, causing major losses in meat and milk production.