British Outbreak May Be Linked to Human Action

UK - An investigation, ordered by Prime Minister Gordon Brown, on Tuesday concluded that the spread of foot-and-mouth disease among livestock at two farms in southern England was probably caused by human movement from nearby laboratory facilities that was either “accidental or deliberate.”
calendar icon 8 August 2007
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Dead cattle were loaded on a truck in Surrey on Wednesday. A second case of foot-and-mouth disease was confirmed, and 102 animals from the farm were slaughtered.

The report, issued by the government’s Health and Safety Executive, said there was a “strong probability” that the outbreak originated at the laboratory facilities, but found a negligible chance that the virus had been released from the facilities by becoming airborne or as a result of recent flooding in the area.

The laboratories had already been identified as a “possible” source of the virus earlier in the week, but a definitive conclusion had not been reached.

The two laboratory facilities, about four miles from the farm where the disease was first detected in cattle on Thursday, are the government-run Institute of Animal Health and Merial Animal Health, a commercial producer of veterinary vaccines that is jointly owned by the American drug maker Merck & Company and Sanofi-Aventis, a French company.

Source: The New York Times

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