LONDON, Sep 18 (Reuters) Sheep on a farm in southern England tested positive for foot and mouth disease after being slaughtered on suspicion that they were infected, the British agricultural ministry said today.
Cattle on the same farm were also slaughtered after they displayed signs of the disease, including lesions, with test results still to come, the ministry said.
The animals were on a farm inside the protection zone west of London set up last week when a new outbreak of the disease was discovered and hundreds of pigs and cattle were culled.
''Foot and mouth disease has today been confirmed at the ...
premises where sheep, pigs and cattle were culled last night,'' the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said in a statement on its website.
''When the animals were examined at slaughter they showed FMD (foot and mouth disease) lesions. Results of further laboratory tests are awaited.'' The pigs were not suspected of having contracted the disease at the farm, which is the fifth infected site in Britain over the past month and a half, a ministry spokeswoman said.
Two nearby sites were hit last week by foot and mouth. The first of those came less than 24 hours after EU veterinary experts agreed to declare Britain free of foot and mouth from Nov. 9 and lift an export ban -- imposed after the disease was found on two farms in August.
Britain suffered a crippling outbreak of foot and mouth disease in 2001 when more than 6 million animals had to be culled. The outbreak hit agriculture and tourism hard, costing the economy an estimated 8.5 billion pounds 16.95 billion dollars.
Foot and mouth is a highly contagious disease which spreads easily on the wind. It can cause animals to foam at the mouth, collapse and leave them with serious health problems.
REUTERS ARB KP1903