Disease restrictions ended in two counties

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The Independent Online
The Government has lifted footâ¿“andâ¿“mouth disease restrictions in two counties, the first such move since the epidemic broke out in February. The Government has lifted footâ¿“andâ¿“mouth disease restrictions in two counties, the first such move since the epidemic broke out in February.

The Ministry of Agriculture said today it had lifted infected–area restrictions around two farms in Leicestershire and Northamptonshire.

Restrictions ended Thursday night, hours after the Government's chief scientific adviser, Professor David King, said the epidemic was "fully under control."

Only one case had been confirmed in Northamptonshire, near Northampton, and four in Leicestershire. Restrictions were ended around a farm in Oakham but remained in effect around three other farms in Leicestershire, about 20 miles west of Oakham.

Though King said the UK had turned the corner in beating the epidemic, veterinarians are still confirming two dozen or so new cases daily – about half the peak level.

Fifteen cases were confirmed in the 24 hours ending Thursday evening, raising the national total to 1,397 since the first case was confirmed on February 20. Foot–and–mouth disease poses no danger to humans but it has effectively closed export markets for British livestock.

Northamptonshire and Leicestershire remain subject to general controls on livestock movement imposed on the whole country, though the stringent restrictions for designated "infected areas" have ended.

"Whilst our number one priority remains combating the disease in the most heavily infected areas, it is right that in areas where there have been few or no new cases we do what we can to lift restrictions," said Countryside Minister Elliot Morley.

Regulations require two–mile protection zones and six–mile surveillance zones to be placed around infected premises.

Animals are slaughtered at the infected premises, and all susceptible livestock in the protection zone are inspected regularly for three weeks.

After that, sheep and goat herds in the protection zone are given blood tests. If all tests are negative, restrictions can be lifted no less than 30 days after the slaughter of infected animals.

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