4 September 2001
Foot-and-mouth reaches 2000th case

By Johann Tasker

FOOT-and-mouth has now been confirmed on 2000 farms since the worlds worst outbreak of the disease hit the UK more than six months ago.

The 2000th case was confirmed on a farm at Ravensworth Fell, Orton, Penrith, Cumbria on Monday (3 September).

Cumbria is the county worst-hit by foot-and-mouth with 878 outbreaks. Across the UK, some 3.8 million livestock have been slaughtered on 9126 farms.

A recent resurgence of the disease, which peaked at 40 new cases a day in March, saw 19 new outbreaks reported in the week ending 2 September.

The area around Hexham, Northumberland has seen 17 outbreaks within 10 days. Before 23 August, no cases had been reported in the county since 22 May.

Thousands more holdings have had livestock slaughtered as dangerous contacts or because they were contiguous to farms with a confirmed outbreak.

Almost 37,000 farms remain under foot-and-mouth restrictions out of 137,523 holdings placed under restriction since the first case on 20 February.

National Farmers Union deputy president Tim Bennett said the epidemic was the worst the world had ever known but insisted that it was in its final stages.

“In our worst nightmares we could never have imagined just how significant an epidemic this would be when we heard about that first case, he said.

But, despite the bleak headlines, the huge efforts being made mean the situation is improving every day.”

More than one third of farms are starting to look at re-stocking. But Mr Bennett said he was under no illusion about the amount of work left to do.

He added: We know that as the autumn approaches the cooler weather will not help us in our efforts to stamp out the disease.

A foot-and-mouth blue box restriction zone in Northumberland has been extended twice in as many days following the resurgence of the disease.

Government officials said the zone was originally 220 square-miles not 400-square miles as first reported. It has been extended to 320 square miles.

Food and Farming minister Lord Whitty said foot-and-mouth had probably gone unnoticed in Northumberland two or three weeks before being detected.

Theories that the latest outbreak had been brought into the region from Cumbria are growing less and less likely, the minister said.

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