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Second outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease confirmed in Britain

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  • NEW: Farmers union not sure U.K. "can nip this outbreak in the bud"
  • NEW: Farmer fears for his reputation as a producer
  • Second outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease confirmed in the U.K.
  • European Union imposes bans on U.K. farming products
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LONDON, England (CNN) -- Tests have confirmed a second foot-and-mouth outbreak in southern England, the government announced, raising fears that the highly contagious animal virus is spreading.

The European Union has restricted all live animals, fresh meat and milk products from mainland Great Britain.

Chief Veterinary Officer Debby Reynolds said Tuesday that tests showed a herd of cattle had been infected.

The animals were culled Monday evening after showing signs of the disease.

Britain's Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said Monday a herd of more than 50 cattle on a second farm within the two-mile (three-kilometer) protection zone in Surrey County, England, had shown signs of the highly contagious disease.

Confirmation of the second case comes a day after the European Union said it would restrict all live animals, fresh meat and milk products from mainland Great Britain.

Roger Pride, who owns the farm where foot-and-mouth was first discovered, said the financial hardship of losing his cattle was not as devastating as the impact on his reputation. Video Watch the farmer's reaction »

"It has taken 20 years to build the shop up, and we've got a good reputation and that's the thing that's hard to get back again," Pride said at a news conference Tuesday.

Speaking at the same news conference, National Farmers' Union spokesman Anthony Gibson said while lessons have been learned about the 2001 outbreak, "we can't be confident at this stage that we can nip this outbreak in the bud."

"But if we can't, it won't be due to lack of effort or shortcomings by any of the farmers or officials who have been involved in dealing with the outbreak so far," Gibson added.

Laboratory results Friday confirmed the first outbreak of the disease was found in cattle at a farm in Surrey County.

Culling of the 38 infected cattle in Surrey was completed Saturday, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said in a posting on its Web site. Cattle on two additional sites that together make up the enterprise and animals on an adjacent farm also were culled.

One of the additional cattle tested positive for the illness, the department said.

Announcing its ban, EU Commission spokesman Philip Tod declared all of Britain except Northern Ireland as a "high-risk area" but also praised the country's government for taking swift action.

"We welcome the speed with which the British authorities have confirmed the strain of the virus which is being dealt with and will await the results of their investigation into the possible origins of the outbreak," Tod said.

Health and safety experts are expected to reveal Tuesday their initial findings of an investigation into the source of the disease.

The inquiry has focused so far on a research facility in Pirbright, a few miles from the infected farms.

The laboratories, which store foot-and-mouth disease for use in vaccines, are shared between the Institute for Animal Health, a diagnostic and research center, and pharmaceutical company Merial Animal Health, whose work includes manufacturing vaccines.

Both organizations use the strain of the virus detected in slaughtered cattle at the first farm, but both have insisted there was no evidence of breaches in biosecurity at their labs.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has vowed that the government will do everything in its power to halt the outbreak.

Britain's farming industry is still suffering from a 2001 outbreak of the virus that led to the culling of millions of animals, many in giant pyres.


The 2001 foot-and-mouth outbreak -- blamed for nearly 2,000 cases of the disease -- led to the slaughter of more than 3.5 million sheep, cows and pigs in a bid to contain the disease. The government was accused of reacting too slowly, allowing the disease to spread.

Foot-and-mouth disease affects cattle, swine, sheep, goats, deer and other animals, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Learn more about foot-and-mouth disease » E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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