Livestock curbs ordered in foot-and-mouth alert

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The Independent Online

A suspected case of foot-and-mouth disease was discovered in Leicestershire last night as a government report disclosed that millions of pounds may have been wasted on fraudulent claims by farmers and contractors during last year's outbreak.

A suspected case of foot-and-mouth disease was discovered in Leicestershire last night as a government report disclosed that millions of pounds may have been wasted on fraudulent claims by farmers and contractors during last year's outbreak.

The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) banned moving livestock in a five-mile radius around a abattoir in Congerstone, while experts ran tests on samples from one pig.

The sow was showing symptoms, including blisters on its body, that could be foot-and-mouth or swine fever, and was immediately killed. There were concerns that the animal could have come from one of 34 farms in East Yorkshire, raising the prospect that thousands more animals might be affected. Those farms have been placed under restrictions, which have also been applied to Selby market where it is thought the pig was sold.

The samples were being tested at the Institute for Animal Health laboratory at Pirbright, Surrey, and results are expected today. A Defra spokesman stressed that since the last confirmed case last September, all suspected cases had tested negative.

A National Audit Office report said payments to some 1,200 contractors, including 59 of more than £1m, during last year's epidemic, had been disputed. Accountants had cut the claims by £3.7m. Another five claims might result in legal proceedings.

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