August 8, 2007 — An outbreak of foot and mouth disease was discovered recently in England at a farm in Surrey, located south of London. The transport of all livestock was put on hold by UK officials to try to contain the epidemic.
A protection zone was placed around the Surrey farm as the mandatory culling and incineration of infected and potentially infected livestock began.
The disease can be transmitted not only through contact but through the wind, thus making outbreaks at nearby farms a plausible threat. Despite efforts to stop the spread of the disease, a nearby farm within the protection zone also was found to have animals that tested positive for the disease. The combined total of killed cattle has reached nearly 200, according to The Sun.
Foot and mouth disease does not affect horses; however, the impact of the halted transport will likely trickle down throughout the equine industry. In 2001, a similar outbreak swept through Great Britain leaving the horse industry crippled as stallion breeding decreased, vet and farrier practices were compromised and competitions were canceled, according to The Jurga Report.
More broadly, the countryside was left barren as farmers stopped planting hay and grain, farms were sold, the livestock population dropped drastically and meat production decreased as young livestock were either culled or simply no longer exported. During the 2001 outbreak, between 6.5 million and 10 million animals were killed.
According to The Sun, the source of the outbreak has yet to be determined, though officials believe that a leaked strain from the Pirbright laboratory facility may be at fault.
Read more in The Jurga Report.