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The BBC's Tim Hirsch
"It has now spread to the most important live-stock-rearing area in Britain"
 real 56k

The BBC's Duncan Kennedy
"The new outbreak means yet more hygiene precautions being put into place"
 real 56k

Prime Minister Tony Blair
"The only thing you can do is to take the toughest possible action straight away"
 real 56k

Ian Johnson, National Farmers Union
"Its a nightmare situation"
 real 28k

Sunday, 25 February, 2001, 17:01 GMT
New disease outbreak hits Devon
The carcasses of culled animals at Heddon-on-the-Wall farm
Preparations to burn carcasses at Heddon-on-the-Wall
A new foot-and-mouth outbreak has been confirmed in north Devon, in a "serious" blow to efforts to contain the disease.

A 10-mile exclusion zone has been set up around Burdon Farm in Highampton. Investigators are also carrying out tests on another suspected outbreak at a nearby farm.


This is potentially a nightmare scenario for the South West

Ian Johnson, NFU
There has also been another outbreak at a farm near Heddon-on-the-Wall, Northumberland, near the site suspected to be the source of the outbreak.

The bad news comes as livestock is killed and burned in the six other farms known to have harboured the virus, and at two farms thought at risk of "contact".

Officials worked overnight doing tests at the Highampton farm and the vet's reports came back positive on Sunday morning, said a Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Foods (Maff) spokesman.

The farm has 600 cattle and 1,500 sheep and the farmer runs 13 premises, 11 in Devon and two in Cornwall, all of which will be inspected.

Click here to see map of confirmed cases.

Chief Veterinary Officer Jim Scudamore said he was "reasonably certain" that the farmer had been exporting to Europe, although there would have been no exports since the European Union ban enforced last week.

A spokesman for the owner of the farm, Willy Cleave, said: "He has a great deal on his mind at the present time but is co-operating fully with everybody involved.

"He is a conscientious and competent farmer and he is very much affected by today's news."

Agriculture Minister Nick Brown told BBC One's Breakfast with Frost the new outbreak was "a worrying development".

Agriculture Minister Nick Brown
Nick Brown: A worrying development
The regional National Farmers' Union spokesman, Ian Johnson, said it could be a catastrophe for the South West.

"This is potentially a nightmare scenario for the South West, which is Britain's biggest livestock area," he said.

Mr Brown said the new outbreak highlighted the importance of restricting movements of livestock around the country.

With no new cases in the last few days officials had been hopeful that the disease had not spread.

But a BBC correspondent said there had been a lull of new cases during the last major outbreak of the disease in 1967.

Incinerated

The government has imposed a seven-day banned on all transport of livestock throughout the country.

Mr Brown said this would be reviewed in light of the new case and the ban might be extended.

The government is now undertaking a work to identify the origin of the outbreak before Northumberland.

Activities curbed
Monday's race meeting at Newcastle is cancelled
Camping and Caravaning Club cancels meets
RSPB reserves closed
Fox and deer hunting and hare coursing banned
Whipsnade Wild Animal Park and Woburn Safari Park closed
Half of all city farms shut
Visitors to London Zoo are being asked to walk across disinfected matting
Richmond Park, Bushy Park and Hampton Court Home Park closed from midnight on Sunday

Mr Brown said if the outbreak was the result of imported meat from outside the UK being fed to animals it would almost certainly be from an illegal import.

"It is very difficult to see the legal route for getting such meat from a place where there is infection into this country," he said.

Hundreds of animal carcasses are being incinerated on Sunday at farms where foot-and-mouth disease has broken out.

Maff ordered the mass slaughter in an attempt to wipe out the disease.

More than 800 pigs at Heddon-on-the-Wall will be burned after being humanely killed.

Animals at the neighbouring farm had already been slaughtered as a precaution but clinical tests taken at the time revealed they were diseased.

A cull is also being carried out at the nearby farm where a new outbreak is suspected. The cull had been planned as precaution before scare.

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