Lab Says "No Evidence" It Is Behind UK Cattle Disease

LONDON - A research laboratory at the centre of an investigation into an outbreak of foot and mouth disease in southern Britain said on Wednesday it had complete confidence in its biosecurity measures.
calendar icon 8 August 2007
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Diseased cow.

Government inspectors say there is a "strong probability" the disease, which has prompted a cull of cattle and an international ban on British meat, milk and livestock, came from labs in Surrey close to farms where cattle were infected.

A preliminary report into the outbreak, first confirmed five days ago, said there was a real possibility it involved "human movement" from the labs. The government Institute for Animal Health (IAH) and another lab, Merial Animal Health, owned by U.S. firm Merck and French firm Sanofi-Aventis SA, occupy the same site in Pirbright, about 5 miles (8 km) from the affected farms.

Merial rejected the report's suggestions, saying that despite days of intensive internal investigations it had "not been able to establish any evidence that the virus may have been transported out of our centre by humans".

Both laboratories, which conduct research and develop vaccines against foot and mouth, handle the exact, rare strain of the virus -- isolated by British scientists 40 years ago -- that struck the herd.

Lead investigator Paul Logan said his team was carrying out further tests on the drainage system at the Merial lab to see if the virus could have been spread in that way. Results are expected on Wednesday, he said.

Source: Reuters
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