Abattoir freed from disease controls
By FWi staff
FOOT-AND-MOUTH restrictions been lifted around the abattoir where Britains foot-and-mouth epidemic was first detected more than two months ago.
Amid growing signs that the Government is winning the fight against the disease, 898 farms were freed from restrictions around Brentwood, Essex..
Restrictions have also been lifted from an area of west Wiltshire, releasing a further 971 farms. That county has now had all its infected area restrictions lifted.
The lifting of restrictions in the two counties came as the number of new cases of foot-and-mouth continues to decline.
Thirteen new cases were confirmed on Monday (23 April) taking the total number of cases up to 1448 in Great Britain.
In the week up to 22 April, there was an average of 16 new confirmed cases each day, compared to 27 in the seven-day period ending 15 April.
At the peak of the epidemic, some 50 new cases were being reported daily.
Foot-and-mouth was first identified by a veterinary inspector in pigs taken to the Cheale Meats abattoir, near Brentwood, Essex, on 20 February.
The disease was subsequently traced to a pig fattening unit run by Ronnie and Bobby Waugh at Heddon-on-the-Wall, Northumberland.
But the disease had already spread to sheep transported across the country by the time the Waughs farm was identified as the source of the outbreak.
However, a total of 11,136 farms in the UK have now had infected area restrictions lifted, reported the Ministry of Agriculture.
Those farmers can take animals to any slaughterhouse willing to accept them in an uninterrupted journey which takes less than four-and-a-half hours.
A vet no longer has to inspect them before movement.
It means the farmers involved can apply for licences to move their livestock to more areas under the governments livestock movement schemes.
They will no longer be restricted to licensed movements in their own infected area, but cannot move to any farm in a provisionally free area, said MAFF.
Junior agriculture minister Elliot Morley said: “I am pleased that we are able to lift more restrictions in addition to those already announced.
Signalling a partial return to normality, the minister said this meant that local authorities could now consider re-opening footpaths and rights of way.
The Governments number one priority remains combating the disease in the most heavily-infected areas, Mr Morley added.
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