The highly-contagious foot and mouth disease has been confirmed in a herd of cattle in the southern English county of Surrey. A perimeter quarantine zone has been set up in the area, but transport of livestock and livestock products is halted nationwide. A second farm, in the eastern county of Norfolk, has a suspected outbreak. Activities like sheep shearing must cease. The driving competition at Windsor Castle has been cancelled along with other shows.
Horses are not susceptible to infection by foot-and-mouth disease, and they cannot carry the virus in the same way as susceptible animals, such as sheep and cattle. However, in common with other non-susceptible animals (such as dogs and cats), people and inanimate objects (such as cars), they can be involved in physically spreading infection.
Material from an infected animal (manure, hair etc.) can be carried on hooves, bodies and tack of horses and by the rider. It could be carried from areas containing infected animals to previously ?clean' areas.
The risk of horses carrying the virus is increased because horses are often kept on the same premises as susceptible animals, transported in vehicles used for moving susceptible animals, have contact with susceptible animals on neighboring farms, or are handled by persons who also have contact with susceptible animals.
There's even a limit on dog walking, and foot paths are closed to hikers.
Luckily, the British eventing team is already on location in Italy for the European championships, which begin tomorrow.