Foot and mouth outbreak confirmed

A NATIONWIDE movement ban on cattle, sheep and pigs is in place today after the Government confirmed an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease.Cattle on a farm near Guildford, in Surrey, tested positive for the same disease which plunged Britain into crisis in 2001 - costing the country an estimated £8billion.

AN EMERGENCY operation is under way today to halt an outbreak of foot and mouth disease which could spell disaster for farmers across the country.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown has cancelled his holiday in Dorset and is heading back to London for emergency Government meetings after cattle on a farm near Guildford, in Surrey, tested positive for the disease.

Foot and mouth plunged Britain into crisis in 2001 - costing the country an estimated £8billion.

The epidemic, first confirmed at an Essex abattoir, saw around seven million sheep and cattle killed in order to halt the spread of the disease.

Farming officials in East Anglia said it was crucial the outbreak was contained.

John Collen, chairman of Suffolk NFU, said: “We are exceedingly worried. At the present time the whole dairy industry is absolutely on its knees. This is a high livestock area and would have a large impact.

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“It's horrendous wherever it is, but we certainly do not want to see this disease spreading.”

A Defra spokesman said: “Nationally no animal movements are allowed except under licence, controls are in place on movement of animal carcasses, animal gatherings, shearing and dipping are restricted, and all farms must increase levels of biosecurity.”

A meeting of the Government's Cobra emergency contingencies committee was held to discuss the outbreak last night, with the Prime Minister taking part by telephone from his holiday in Dorset.

At the Guildford farm, all the cattle on the premises - reported to be in Elstead - are to be killed.

A protection zone, three kilometres in radius, and a surveillance zone of ten kilometres was placed around the premises after confirmation of the disease on Thursday evening and a national movement ban of all ruminants and pigs has been imposed.

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