Just days after United Kingdom (UK) officials declared the Aug. 3 outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) contained, the virulent disease was back.
Preliminary tests confirmed on Wednesday a new case at Egham in Surrey, located 10 miles south of the earlier case. And UK officials reported today that cattle culled as a "precautionary" measure at an adjacent farm also tested positive for FMD.
UK Secretary of State Hilary Benn says initial sequencing of the virus shows it to be type O1BFS, meaning it's likely the same strain as found in the August outbreak.
British farmers are incensed over the discovery of a new FMD case, charging that animal-health officials had hailed the all-clear prematurely. Government investigators are looking at the possibility the virus could have been spread by deer roaming from Pirbright.
Daily Mail reported that Queen Elizabeth was "deeply concerned" upon learning her farm at Windsor is just a few miles from the latest FMD case. More than 10,000 cows, pigs and hens kept in Windsor Great Park could be culled if the disease spreads, as it falls within the 10-km surveillance zone set up by the UK's Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs following confirmation of the new case.
A report released last week by the UK's Health and Safety Executive (HSE) delved into potential breaches of biosecurity at the Pirbright research facility site as a cause of the Aug. 3 outbreak. While the exact cause likely will never be known, the report concluded: "it was possible for the live virus strain -- O1BFS -- to enter the site effluent drainage system. We judged it likely that waste water containing the live virus, having entered the drainage pipework, then leaked out and contaminated the surrounding soil," said HSE Chief Executive Geoffrey Podger. He said that during the period of investigation, there was inadequate control of both human and vehicle movements at Pirbright.
"We conclude that failure to keep complete records was not in line with accepted practice and represents a breach in biosecurity at the site. In particular, vehicles associated with ongoing construction work had relatively unrestricted access to the site. In our opinion, these construction activities -- very near to the effluent drainage system -- are likely to have caused disturbance and movement of soil in a way that contaminated some of the vehicles with the live virus."
Read the report at hse.gov.uk/news/archive/07aug/finalreport.pdf.