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Sunday, August 05, 2007

H.S. Foot and Mouth Disease In Britain Again

Hey folks,

In the Health and Science segment this week, it seems that Britain is again facing the dreaded Foot and Mouth Disease. According to Reuters -Research lab in spotlight over foot and mouth By Luke Baker

British authorities investigating an outbreak of highly infectious foot and mouth disease searched two research laboratories on Sunday located just miles from where a herd of cattle was infected.

While there was no confirmation the sites were the source of the infection, both the high-security labs -- one run by the government's Institute for Animal Health (IAH) and the other by pharmaceutical company Merial -- were placed within a 10-km radius (6-mile) exclusion zone as inspectors moved in.

The laboratories, built on one site, handle a variety of strains of foot and mouth, conduct research into the virus and develop vaccines against it and other animal diseases.

Merial is a leading animal health firm with 2006 sales of $2.2 billion. It is jointly owned by U.S. drugmaker Merck & Co. Inc. and France's Sanofi-Aventis SA.

Attention focused on the labs as the possible source of the infection after Defra, Britain's department for agriculture, said the strain of foot and mouth confirmed in 60 head of cattle on Friday was not one "recently found in animals."

In fact, it was a strain of the virus isolated 40 years ago by British biological researchers, it said.

The director of the government-funded IAH issued a statement saying there had been no security breaches at his laboratory, but left open the possibility that the rare strain of foot and mouth may have leaked from the Merial facility, located alongside the government lab at a site called Pirbright.

The government said Merial had produced a batch containing the same rare strain of the foot and mouth virus -- identified by the government as 01 BFS67, a strain isolated by British scientists in 1967 -- as recently as July 2007.

No proof yet that there is a connection, but, uh? If they just produced the stain in July, and now after having no signs of the SAME strain, they now have 60 head of cattle with the disease?

A Merial spokesman said the company had halted vaccine production as a precaution but had no further comment.

Of course they have no further comment.

Britain's chief veterinarian, Debby Reynolds, ordered an "urgent review into biosecurity arrangements" at both sites, although Defra emphasised that "all potential sources" of the virus were still being investigated.

"The important thing to bear in mind is that this is a promising lead, but we don't know for sure and therefore it is very, very important that people continue to be vigilant," Environment Minister Hilary Benn told BBC television, referring to the possibility the virus leaked from the laboratories.

The infected animals, found on a farm in Surrey, southwest of London, were isolated, culled and taken away for burial on Saturday. A nearby herd was also culled as a precaution.

This also happened in 2001. According to Wikipedia

The outbreak of foot and mouth disease in the United Kingdom in the spring and summer of 2001 saw more than 2,000 cases of the disease in farms in most of the British countryside. Around seven million sheep and cattle were killed in an eventually successful attempt to halt the disease. Cumbria was the worst affected area of the country, with 843 cases. With the intention of controlling the spread of the disease, public rights of way across land were closed by order. This damaged the popularity of the Lake District as a tourist destination. By the time the disease was halted by October 2001, the crisis was estimated to have cost Britain £8bn ($16bn).

An outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in the United Kingdom was confirmed by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) {Basically their version of our FDA} on August third. On a farm between Wyke and Flexford in Surrey England. All livestock on the premises were culled on 4 August. A nationwide ban on the movement of cattle and pigs has been imposed, with a three kilometer protection zone currently in place around the affected farm and a further ten kilometer zone of cattle surveillance. Other potential cases are being investigated

On 4 August, the strain of the virus was identified as one linked to vaccines and not normally found in animals, described as a 01 BFS67 – like virus, isolated in the 1967 outbreak. It is the same strain as used at the nearby Institute for Animal Health and Merial Animal Health LTD at Pirbright 2½ miles (4 km) away which was named as a possible source of infection.

No do not get worried about possibly getting sick from this yourself. According to the CDC

Hand, foot, and mouth disease (HFMD) is a common illness of infants and children. It is characterized by fever, sores in the mouth, and a rash with blisters. HFMD begins with a mild fever, poor appetite, malaise ("feeling sick"), and frequently a sore throat. One or 2 days after the fever begins, painful sores develop in the mouth. They begin as small red spots that blister and then often become ulcers. They are usually located on the tongue, gums, and inside of the cheeks. The skin rash develops over 1 to 2 days with flat or raised red spots, some with blisters. The rash does not itch, and it is usually located on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet. It may also appear on the buttocks. A person with HFMD may have only the rash or the mouth ulcers.

Is HFMD the same as foot-and-mouth disease?

No. HFMD is often confused with foot-and-mouth disease of cattle, sheep, and swine. Although the names are similar, the two diseases are not related at all and are caused by different viruses.

Basically, this is going to have an economic impact on Britain, but there is no reason for people to panic. Like back in 2001, Britain stands to lose a lot financially. The European Commission said it had banned all live animal exports from Britain, as well as meat and dairy products from the infected area. Further restrictions could be brought in after EU veterinary experts meet on Wednesday.

We {The US} have put restrictions on imports of cattle and sheep from Britain due to other health scares, said it would also ban imports of pork and pork products.

According to Reuters

Depending on how long the EU and U.S. bans remain in place, the impact on British agriculture could be profound. Industry experts said British exports of livestock and meat were worth about 15 million pounds a week.

OK. Outbreak in 2001 linked to them messing with this disease. Outbreak today, due to them messing with this disease. Why continue to mess with this disease? I do not understand the logic. If someone out there can explain to me the reason they keep doing this, please enlighten me. Logic dictates to me, that this is a very bad and VERY contagious disease that can be carried on the wind. Why not just leave this alone?

Reuters -Research lab in spotlight over foot and mouth

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