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UK orders temporary control zone after suspected FMD cases

Getty Images Person walking in front of an area taped off due to Foot-and-Mouth Disease outbreak
The 10-kilometer zone was declared following suspicion of vesicular disease in pigs.

Government officials in the United Kingdom are enforcing a temporary foot and mouth disease control zone, following suspected cases in pigs near Norfolk.

In an update on the website, the Animal and Plant Health Agency said, "Following suspicion of vesicular disease in pigs, and as a precaution to prevent the spread of disease, a 10-kilometer temporary control zone has been declared around a premises near Feltwell, Kings Lynn and West Norfolk, Norfolk. 

"The premises remains under restriction pending the outcome of official tests."

Signs of FMD in pigs include:

  • sudden lameness, which may spread quickly among the herd
  • loudly squealing from pain
  • tendency to lie down and unwillingness to move
  • reluctance to feed

Pigs don't usually develop blisters as a result of FMD, but sometimes blisters do appear on the upper edge of the hoof where the skin and horn meet, the snout and the tongue

As the clinical signs are indistinguishable from swine vesicular disease, the APHA said the condition should be treated as suspected FMD until laboratory tests prove otherwise.

FMD first appeared in the UK in 1839. In 1967, the country was hit with its first major outbreak of FMD, which led to culling of 442,000 animals. However, the 2001 outbreak was the country's most devastating, causing a crisis in British agriculture and tourism. A stamping out policy was put in place, in which 6.5 million infected and in-contact animals were culled. The total economic losses due to the 2001 outbreak were estimated at between USD 12.3-13.8 billion.  

Another outbreak hit the UK in 2007 and it was later identified that biosecurity breaches at a government-funded laboratory were to blame for the discharge of infectious effluent.

The United States has remained free of FMD since the last outbreak in 1929.

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