Second Northumberland case of foot and mouth

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The Independent Online

A second new case of foot and mouth disease was confirmed yesterday in Northumberland, 24 hours after the area's first outbreak for three months.

Officials admitted the second outbreak yesterday was a devastating blow. They had hoped that Friday's would remain an isolated case.

It is not clear how the disease came back to the area but a spokesman for the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) admitted it was "possible it was lying latent" in the sheep.

The new outbreak brings the total number of confirmed cases to 1,972. Hopes had been growing that the disease had been wiped out in Northumberland after no new cases were found for almost three months. The two farms in Northumberland are less than five miles apart. Officials said the farmers were friends, and that it was possible the disease had spread through movement between the two farms.

Arthur Griffiths, divisional veterinary manager with the State Veterinary Service, announced the introduction of Blue Box regulations, which will begin tomorrow in an attempt to control the spread. Stringent bio-security measures will be enforced at farms and 24-hour patrols on the roads are being considered to stop illegal movement of animals. Mr Griffiths said: "These may seem to be draconian measures but our intention is to make sure this flare-up is as short-lived as possible."

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