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. No foot and mouth at fourth British farm: environment ministry

by Staff Writers
London (AFP) Aug 11, 2007
Tests for foot and mouth disease on animals on a fourth farm in south-east England were negative and a temporary zone has been lifted, the environment ministry said Saturday.

A ministry spokeswoman confirmed to AFP that results for the highly contagious virus showed that none of the animals on the farm near Dorking in the county of Surrey was infected.

"Tests in the temporary zone have proved negative and the temporary zone has been lifted," she said, adding that further details would be released later Saturday.

The suspected outbreak raised fears among farmers that the virus may have spread because the farm was outside the quarantine zone imposed after the first case was confirmed in cattle about 10 miles (16 kilometres) away on August 3.

Initial tests had proved inconclusive but Britain's chief vet Debby Reynolds said there was only a "low" level of suspicion that the test would prove positive, while the farmer affected said he was convinced it was not the virus.

"The vet was 99 percent sure it was not foot and mouth," Laurence Matthews told reporters Friday.

The announcement will come as a relief to Britain's farmers who had feared a repeat of the devastating 2001 epidemic and suggests that the outbreak, linked to a nearby animal vaccines research laboratory, has been contained.

The epidemic six years ago cost the country an estimated eight billion pounds (11.8 billion euros, 16.3 billion dollars), saw up to 10 million cattle slaughtered and sent many farmers to the wall.

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Britain Fears Repeat Of 2001 Epidemic
London (AFP) Aug 07, 2007
Britain's rural community is fearing a repeat of the foot and mouth epidemic six years ago, which devastated the countryside economy. The epidemic battered the farming and tourism industries, costing Britain's economy an estimated eight billion pounds (16.3 billion dollars, 11.9 billion euros). The grisly spectacle of cattle carcasses ablaze on giant pyres and dark smoke filling the air became a familiar distressing sight across the country as between 6.5 and 10 million animals were destroyed.

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