The UK government has defended its handling of foot-and-mouth disease outbreaks this summer, denying claims that they sounded the “all-clear” too soon. Initial tests suggest the latest virus is the same strain which caused two outbreaks in July and August, and if confirmed, fears of a more widespread outbreak should ease. This week’s case in Egham came just as the EU announced that the UK was clear of foot-and-mouth.
Britain’s Chief Vet, Debby Reynolds said: “The areas include, of course, some sort of contact with an animal which had got undisclosed foot and mouth disease. That simply had not come to light in all of the work that has been done over the last weeks since the beginning of August.”
An EU ban on meat, dairy and livestock exports from the UK, which was to have been lifted, has now been re-confirmed. Peter Kendall, the president of the National Farmers’ Union said: “The state veterinary service has worked closely with the EU and their veterinary services, and jointly it was decided that the risk was so low (after the earlier outbreaks) that they could lift those restrictions, and as an industry we wanted them lifted.”
The farm in Egham has been sealed off, and a 10 kilometre surveillance zone has been established around it. The farmer though, is having to deal with the culling of all his cattle.