Sunday, August 05, 2007

Science lab suspected in foot and mouth outbreak

· Research plant is near infected farm
· Ban on export of British livestock
An accidental leak of an experimental vaccine from a private research site was being investigated urgently last night as the likely source of Britain's new foot and mouth disease outbreak. The news came as the government attempted to avert a full-scale crisis in farming and the tourism industry.

Movement of all livestock has been banned, exports to Europe stopped and country fairs cancelled to minimise the risk of the country suffering a disastrous rerun of the 2001 foot and mouth epidemic which cost the nation £8.5bn.

Merial Animal Health, a private pharmaceutical firm shares facilities with a government laboratory in Pirbright, and is commissioned by the European Union to formulate new vaccines for animal diseases. Both companies are expected to meet tight regulatory standards for biosecurity.

Investigators are now focusing on whether
a batch of the vaccine
escaped the site.
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