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UK: Foot-and-mouth disease, 'possible sabotage investigated'

Wednesday, August 8th 2007 - 21:00 UTC
Full article
Microbiology expert  Pennington said it was possible there had been “some sort of surface leak at Pirbright” Microbiology expert Pennington said it was possible there had been “some sort of surface leak at Pirbright”

Experts are investigating the possibility that the foot-and-mouth outbreak was caused by sabotage linked to the Pirbright laboratory site.

A preliminary report by the Health and Safety Executive concluded there were various potential routes for "accidental or deliberate transfer of material from the site". It said: "We have investigated site management systems and records and spoken to a number of employees. As a result we are pursuing lines of inquiry. "Release by human movement must also be considered a real possibility. Further investigation of the above issues is required and is being urgently pursued." Environment Secretary Hilary Benn admitted the Government must look at the possibility the outbreak in Surrey was the result of deliberate human contamination. He said: "The truth is, we don't know. We're all very very anxious." Mr Benn has announced that the possibility the strain had been released by human movement will be investigated further as "a matter of urgency", and said he has asked for another report as soon as possible. Meanwhile, Gordon Brown insisted that efforts to contain and eradicate foot-and-mouth disease would continue apace. The Prime Minister praised the "determined" operation to stop it spreading and added there would be a second report from the Health and Safety Executive, following on from the interim findings. Mr Brown said: "The work goes on to isolate, to contain, control and eradicate the disease."

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