Foot-and-mouth confirmed on another farm

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Foot and mouth disease has been confirmed on another farm, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said today.

Pigs, cattle and sheep were slaughtered as a precaution last night after initial tests on sheep showed signs of foot and mouth.

Today Defra confirmed the farm, near Egham, Surrey, was infected with the disease after foot and mouth lesions were found on the carcasses of cattle.

It is the third farm to be hit by the latest outbreak. Two other farms in Surrey were also affected last month.

Neighbours named the farm as The Klondyke, owned by Sally Hepplethwaite, who keeps a small herd of cattle, sheep and other farmyard animals as pets.

The latest case, within the protection zone in Surrey and near the premises affected last week, came just as the outbreak appeared to have been contained.

Farmers outside the stricken area were permitted to start taking their animals for slaughter again on Sunday after transport restrictions were relaxed by Defra.

Before last night, no further instances of the disease had been reported since slaughtered cattle were found to be infected at two farms near Egham last week.

Minor changes have now been made to the protection and surveillance zones as a result of the new case and further lab tests are being done on the animals.

The new cases are thought to involve the same strain of the disease as that found in animals culled last month at the village of Normandy, near Guildford.

A Health and Safety Executive investigation found the disease might have escaped from a leaky pipe running between a Government-run animal health laboratory and a privately-run pharmaceuticals firm, Merial Animal Health, at Pirbright, three miles from the original outbreak at Normandy.

Shadow Defra secretary Peter Ainsworth said: "This is disturbing news.

"All of us, especially in the farming community, have been hoping that the outbreak is now over.

"It was caused by negligence by the Government and its agencies. We have to hope that the Government will now be competent in dealing with the clean-up.

"The big question that still remains is how foot and mouth could ever have escaped from a Government-licensed laboratory in the first place?"