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Monday, 14 January, 2002, 23:52 GMT
Foot-and-mouth: Crisis timeline
The scene at the Essex abbatoir the day after the first foot-and-mouth case was detected there
The disease first appeared at an abattoir last February
The end of a crisis that began almost 11 months ago is being marked with the last county in the UK being declared free of foot-and-mouth disease.

BBC News Online looks back at the main events of the devastating outbreak.


19 February 2001

The countryside's worst nightmare begins with a routine inspection at Cheale Meats abattoir in Little Warley, south of Brentwood, Essex, that finds "highly suspicious" signs of foot-and-mouth disease in 27 pigs.

20 February

The then Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (now the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) confirms the outbreak.

The abattoir and two farms that supplied the suspect pigs have five-mile (eight-kilometre) animal exclusion zones put round them.

Tests at a farm next door to the abattoir, and owned by the same family, confirm the presence of foot-and-mouth there too.

21 February

All exports of live animals, meat and dairy products are banned by the government. The European Commission bans exports of all live animals and animal products from Britain.

Northern Ireland follows suit with a ban on the import of animal and dairy products from the UK.

22 February

A cattle farm at Great Warley, near Brentwood in Essex, produces the third case of foot-and-mouth.

People are urged to avoid farmland to prevent the disease spreading further.

24 February

The first mass slaughter, involving thousands of pigs and cattle, gets underway on eight farms across England.

25 February

The outbreak total reaches seven at a farm near Okehampton, Devon. The farmer is thought to have exported to Europe.

The Countryside Alliance announces it is postponing a protest march planned for 18 March in central London

2 March

The first outbreaks in Northern Ireland and Scotland take the number of cases to 40.

The army is called in to help to organise the cull.

8 March

Chief Veterinary Officer Jim Scudamore warns the crisis will last a "long time", as the number of outbreaks rises to 106.

3 April

Prime Minister Tony Blair announces that the "feelings and sensitivities" of people in affected areas mean local elections - and, it is assumed, the general election - in England planned for 3 May must be delayed.

14 April

Fears over the organisation of the mass cull are raised after pictures emerge of a white-clad marksman apparently shooting at sheep and lambs in a Monmouthshire field.

24 April

The human form of disease - which is not thought to be dangerous - is suspected in a slaughterman who came into close contact with infected animal material. It later proves a false alarm.

7 June

The general and local elections go ahead, but foot-and-mouth is far from beaten.

10 August

Calls for a full-scale public inquiry into the handling of the outbreak are ignored by ministers as three separate inquiries are announced.

19 August

The epidemic reaches the six-month mark with 3,750,222 animals slaughtered.

The tourist trade says local businesses have lost trade estimated at 250m.

3 September

The number of confirmed cases of foot-and-mouth in the UK reaches 2,000.

30 September

What becomes the last recorded case of the outbreak is found in animals in a field north of Little Asby, Appleby, Cumbria.

14 January 2002

With no outbreak for three months and negative tests on sheep flocks in Northumberland, the county were foot-and-mouth was initially traced, Britain declares itself free of foot-and-mouth from midnight.

International clearance and a resumption of trading status will take longer, possibly months.



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