FMD: EC reinforces UK measures

The European Commission (EC) has declared the whole of Great Britain a high risk zone. Meanwhile, floods could be to blame for the outbreak.

The European Commission (EC) has declared the whole of Great Britain a high risk zone from which livestock and meat cannot be exported.

In a decision this afternoon, the EC announced interim protection measures which reinforce the measures taken by the UK authorities in response to the outbreak of foot and mouth disease (FMD) on a farm in Surrey on Friday.

Britain imposed measures to stop any spread of the disease. These included the culling of all animals on the infected holding, the establishment of a 3km protection zone and 10km surveillance zone around the premises, in which stringent movement restrictions apply, and the application of increased biosecurity measures. It also imposed an automatic ban on livestock and meat exports.

The EC has just confirmed these measures and in collaboration with Britain, has identified the whole of Great Britain as a high risk area to which protection measures apply. No live animals susceptible to FMD (cattle, sheep, goats and pigs), or products from these animals, can be exported. Likewise, other European member states cannot send any such live animals to Great Britain.

In order to reduce the economic impact of this outbreak, the EC has designated certain products safe, which will still be allowed to be exported. These include animal products produced before 15 July, those treated in a way which would inactivate any possible virus (such as heat treatment), or those which were manufactured in Great Britain but derived from animals reared outside our territory.

Live animals and animal products will still be allowed to be exported from Northern Ireland to other member states, so long as they carry the appropriate health certificate and the responsible veterinary authority in the country of destination is given three days advance warning.

Investigation into the source of the virus is still ongoing, and the EC remains in very close contact with the UK authorities. The disease situation will be reviewed at a special meeting of the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health on 8 August at 2pm.

Meanwhile, latest reports suggest that investigators are looking into the possibility that flooding may be to blame for the outbreak. Chief veterinary officer Debby Reynolds told the BBC that flooding was one possible means by which animals may have been infected.

At present inspectors have yet to confirm whether the source of the virus is the Pirbright research site.

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