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Health and Consumer Protection

Press releases

Brussels, 21 February 2001

Foot-and-mouth disease in the United Kingdom

The European Commission today adopted interim protective measures in response to outbreaks of foot-and-mouth disease in the United Kingdom. The exports of live animals, fresh meat and meat products, milk and milk products and other animal products from the UK to other parts of the Community are prohibited until 1 March 2001, unless the latter are treated appropriately. The decision will apply immediately and shall be reviewed at the meeting of the Standing Veterinary Committee scheduled for the 27 February 2001.

On 20 February 2001 outbreaks of foot-and-mouth disease have been declared in the United Kingdom which were detected in an abattoir and a neighbouring farm in the County of Essex. In addition to the measures provided for in the framework of a Council Directive introducing Community measures for the control of foot-and-mouth disease, the UK authorities have already applied additional measures to contain and eliminate the disease.

However, the disease situation requires reinforcing the control measures for foot-and-mouth disease taken by the United Kingdom by adopting additional Community protective measures to restrict the movement of live susceptible animals and products derived from such animals to other parts of the European Union.

In particular it will be prohibited:

To move live susceptible animals (bovine, ovine, caprine and porcine species and other biungulates) and their germinal products from the United Kingdom to other parts of the Community.

To send products, notably fresh meat and meat products, milk and milk products, hides and skins and other animal products from the same species from the United Kingdom to other parts of the Community unless these products are obtained before 1 February 2001 or have been treated in a way that the risk to spread the food-and-mouth disease virus is avoided.

Foot and mouth disease is a highly contagious viral disease of ruminants and pigs. The disease is characterised by the formation of vesicles on the foot and in and around the mouth. It is known to cause significant economic losses to farmers. In general, an outbreak of the disease immediately leads to restrictions on international trade in livestock and in products such as meat, milk and certain cheeses originating from the country affected. The disease in animals does not pose any danger to human health.

The Commission is actively monitoring the situation with the full co-operation of the UK veterinary health authorities. The situation will be reviewed at a meeting of the Standing Veterinary Committee on 27 February 2001 when it is hoped to have a better picture of the extent of the outbreak and of the effectiveness of the control measures.

Released on 28/02/2001


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