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Experts say foot-and-mouth outbreak looks contained

Article

London - 8/13/2007 - The outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in southern England could be contained by the end of the week, but farmers must remain cautious to ensure no further cases, says a top British microbiologist.

London - 8/13/2007 - The outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in southern England could be contained by the end of the week, but farmers must remain cautious to ensure no further cases, says a top British microbiologist.

The disease was found in livestock on two farms in Surrey, southern England, but tests on two other nearby properties were negative.

"If there's nothing more by the end of this coming week, I think we can be pretty certain we are in the clear," says Hugh Pennington, bacteriology professor and one of the country's leading food safety experts.

Inspectors are continuing to trace the potential source of the disease, with the most probable source now being a Pirbright research facility in Surrey that was developing foot-and-mouth disease. The facility houses a government-run laboratory and a second Merial lab.

More than 570 animal have been destroyed and the European Union and individual countries have banned British meat and dairy exports since the outbreak. A severe 2001 outbreak forced the slaughter of six million animals and resulted in billions of dollars of losses to farmers and the tourism industry.

Britain's chief veterinary officer Debby Reynolds says farmers must continue to exercise "relentless vigilance" despite signs the disease has been contained.

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