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New foot and mouth outbreak in UK

  • Story Highlights
  • Outbreak of foot and mouth in southern England near last month's cases
  • Britain imposes nationwide ban on movement of animals
  • EU suspends decision to resume full trade of animals and products with UK
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LONDON, England (CNN) -- Britain has imposed a nationwide ban on the movement of animals after another outbreak of foot and mouth disease was discovered on a cattle farm in Surrey, close to the site of last month's outbreak of the highly transmissible virus.

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An animal health worker operates at a farm in Surrey, southeast England last month.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who met with Britain's chief veterinary officer Debby Reynolds and other officials dealing with the outbreak, said urgent action has been taken.

"We've agreed (on) an intensive, immediate testing of animals, and that is already taking place," Brown said "We've also agreed on immediate and extensive zone protection, and that's already been designated.

"We will do everything in our power to get to the root cause of what has happened."

Reynolds confirmed Wednesday that initial laboratory results and clinical symptoms confirmed the presence of foot and mouth disease.

As a result of the outbreak, the European Union suspended its draft decision -- passed Tuesday -- that would have allowed normal trade of animals and animal products to resume to and from Britain.

Instead, the EU's Standing Committee adopted emergency measures Wednesday afternoon that extended Great Britain's categorization "as a high-risk area until 15th October 2007, subject to review."

Cattle are being culled as a precaution and British authorities have set up a 3-kilometer radius protection zone around a grazing area in Surrey, near the towns of Egham and Staines, west of London. A 10-kilometer-radius "surveillance zone" has been set up beyond the protection zone, where foot traffic has been banned.

The incident follows last month's culling of dozens of cattle after a foot-and-mouth outbreak was detected at a Surrey farm. Investigators suspect the virus may have originated in a nearby laboratory, which was producing a vaccine for the disease.

The lab suspended production of the vaccine after the outbreak was discovered.

The big concern is that the highly transmissible virus could spread nationwide and cause massive losses for farmers.

"I can say that I do sympathize and understand the anxieties and worries that the farming community will have this evening," Brown said Wednesday.

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"I think the farming community will understand that a national ban on the movement of animals is necessary as a precaution, just as the precautionary culling of animals that we've already agreed."

In 2001 more than 3.5 million sheep, cows and pigs were slaughtered to quell a foot-and-mouth epidemic. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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