Government warned of 4,000 cases

Official report forecasts 'very large epidemic'
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The Independent Online

An official Government report today warns that the number of foot-and-mouth cases may soar to more than 4,000 - more than eight times the current level.

An official Government report today warns that the number of foot-and-mouth cases may soar to more than 4,000 - more than eight times the current level.

The report, compiled for the agriculture ministry by disease specialists, estimates that the number of cases will rise steeply with "rapid expansion in the existing [infected] areas inspite of current controls".

Cases could rise to the level of 70 a day over the next two weeks with more than 4,000 cases being recorded by June - a 'very large epidemic'.

The authors said there was still a need for further drastic action to bring the epidemic under control, otherwise the disease would 'become established in Britain'.

The report said the speedier slaughter of infected animals would help to reduce the spread of the virus but that culling also needed to include the "immediate slaughter of all susceptible species around infected farms otherwise the final number of infected cases will be very high".

Experts from the Institute of Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency, who helped compile the report, also said the UK's last major epidemic, in 1967 was "quite different". The number of slaughtered animals is already approaching the number culled in 1967.

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