Suspected foot and mouth case in southern Britain

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LONDON, Sep 12 (Reuters) A suspected case of foot and mouth disease has been found on a farm in southern England and the herd in question is to be culled, a government source said today.

The suspect farm herd is in Surrey, around 50 Km from the scene of the last outbreak in August and an exclusion zone has been put in place, the source said.

''We are acting quickly, we are not taking any risks,'' the source said, adding that the government's emergency committee Cobra will meet later today.

The new suspected case comes less than 24 hours after European Union veterinary experts had agreed yesterday to declare Britain free of foot and mouth disease (FMD) from November 9 and lift a ban on all exports of British meat, dairy and live animals which was imposed after FMD was found on two farms in Surrey in July and August.

That decision was immediately suspended today as news of the new suspected case broke.

An investigation into the August outbreak highlighted biosecurity breaches at a nearby government-funded laboratory, the Institute of Animal Health.

Britain's Health and Safety Executive issued a separate report in which it said it was ''highly likely'' that the virus entered a drainage system shared by the IAH and another commerically own research laboratory on the same site.

REUTERS SG HT1625

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