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Friday, 21 June, 2002, 10:02 GMT 11:02 UK
Foot-and-mouth test results negative
Road sign
The last confirmed case was in September 2001
Initial results from tests on a pig at a Leicestershire slaughterhouse appear to show it was not suffering from foot-and-mouth disease.

A pig at an abattoir in Congerstone was slaughtered on Thursday after showing signs of possible infection.

Samples were taken for urgent testing at the Institute for Animal Health laboratory at Pirbright in Surrey.

The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said on Friday the first results had been negative - but a definitive answer cannot be given until Tuesday morning.

BBC Graphic showing Congerstone in Leicestershire

Defra has banned the movement of livestock in a five mile radius around the slaughterhouse as a precaution.

The restricted zone covers Twycross Zoo.

The alarm was raised after the pig was seen to have blisters on its body at the Dawkins International Ltd abattoir in Congerstone, a slaughterhouse for both pigs and cattle which also packs offal.

A spokesman for Defra said officials were currently investigating each of the 34 farms in Yorkshire where the pig may have come from.

Farmers' concerns

Peter Harris, of Tythe Farm, which is sited a short distance from the slaughterhouse, said he was "optimistic" the test results would prove negative.

"I hope that the whole thing is a big storm in a teacup.

"My concern is that if there is an outbreak we are very close.

"Obviously it was a considerable shock. We were involved fairly closely in the outbreak before."

The last confirmed case of foot-and-mouth was in September 2001 but there have been numerous false alarms since then.

2001 crisis

The foot-and-mouth crisis which began in February last year resulted in the slaughter of about six million animals.

The cost to farming was put at more than 900 million.

Tourism in England was said to suffered with estimated losses of 4.25bn.

There were 2,030 confirmed cases of the disease in the UK and Northern Ireland.

The scare comes as the European Parliament's Foot-and-mouth Enquiry Committee tours the UK looking at measures in place to contain the disease should there be another outbreak.

Committee member Chris Heatton-Harris, Conservative MEP for East Midlands, said: "We need to know what containment measures the government have in place to prevent chaos and fear spreading throughout the farming community."


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21 Jun 02 | UK Politics
21 Jun 02 | England
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