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Recent Floods Could Have Spread Foot And Mouth

The recent flood events in Britain may be a contributing factor to the current outbreak of foot and mouth disease. Photo courtesy AFP.
by Staff Writers
London (AFP) Aug 06, 2007
Britain's foot and mouth outbreak could have been caused by recent flooding, Environment Secretary Hilary Benn said Monday. He said officials were investigating the possibility that the highly contagious virus could have spread from a laboratory site south-west of London to a farm three miles (five kilometres) away. Britain's first foot and mouth outbreak in six years was confirmed Friday on Woolford's Farm in the county of Surrey. Officials have said the virus strain was not one normally found in animals and resembled one being used in recent weeks at the nearby Pirbright lab.

Britain's chief vet Debby Reynolds, one of the key figures in tackling the foot and mouth outbreak, earlier said high water levels could have helped spread the virus.

Benn, who like Prime Minister Gordon Brown broke off his holiday to head up the top-level handling of the outbreak, said flooding was a possible explanation.

"It is one of the options we are looking at," he told Channel 4 television.

"There was flooding on the farm last month. We have got to keep an open mind."

Reynolds said earlier: "The investigation on the farm is taking all factors into account including flooding, movement, and everything that is related to events in the lead-up period to the report of suspicion being made.

"There is interest in a particular area on the farm where there was some flood water and that is one of the features that is being examined."

A spokeswoman for Benn's ministry, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, said the flooding theory was speculation at this stage.

"It is one of the issues that have been looked at," she told AFP.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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