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Last Updated: Friday, 3 August 2007, 22:07 GMT 23:07 UK
Costly memories of foot-and-mouth
A cow is lowered on to a pyre during the foot-and-mouth epidemic
Burning carcasses on mass pyres became a regular sight in 2001
The discovery of foot-and-mouth disease among cattle at a farm in Surrey will prompt memories of the major outbreak which hit the UK in 2001.

The outbreak saw about seven million animals slaughtered and devastation for many farms and rural businesses.

The crisis is estimated to have cost the country up to 8bn.

Ministers were criticised for failing to prepare properly for an outbreak on that scale and for not halting the spread of the disease quickly enough.

It was the first major outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease since 1967, when 442,000 animals were slaughtered.

The first case in the 2001 outbreak was at an abattoir in Brentwood, Essex, in February of that year.

Impact on tourism

The European Commission immediately banned all British milk, meat and livestock exports until the disease had been contained.

All 300 animals at the abattoir were slaughtered in an attempt to control the outbreak but the disease spread across the UK and over the next year more than 2,000 animals were diagnosed with foot-and-mouth.

The burning of animals on mass pyres became the vivid image of the 2001 outbreak.

Cumbria was the worst affected area with more than 800 cases.

To prevent the spread of the disease, public rights of way across the UK were closed.

Foot-and-mouth notice
Parts of the countryside were closed off to stop the disease spreading

The disease destroyed the livelihoods of thousands of farmers, while the Countryside Agency estimated the cost to tourism alone at between 2bn and 3bn.

The UK was declared free of foot-and-mouth disease in January 2002.

An inquiry into the outbreak - the Anderson Inquiry - made its report in July 2002, with its main recommendation being that the government needed a new "national strategy" to help contain any future animal health outbreak.

The report recognised ministers were facing a virtually unprecedented situation and had to make decisions under intense pressure.

Farmers received 1.34bn in compensation for livestock losses, but just 39m was given to the Business Recovery Fund aimed at rural businesses that suffered losses.

Since the last outbreak the government has suggested vaccination - which many farmers did not want in 2001 because of fears it would affect exports - would be considered as a method of fighting any future outbreak.

Farmers' union president on fears of a repeat of 2001

Politics and the countryside
26 Aug 04 |  UK Politics
Foot-and-mouth: The key stats
18 Feb 02 |  UK News
F&M: The rural nemesis
28 Dec 01 |  Review of 2001


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