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6 Aug, 2007 09:02

Russia bans meat imports from Britain

Russia has restricted imports of livestock and meat products from the UK, after a farm in Surrey was struck by foot-and-mouth disease. More than 60 cattle tested positive for the virus and were later culled in an attempt to contain the outbreak.

The disease cannot affect humans, but it spreads very quickly among livestock and is highly contagious.

Russia – like some other countries – has taken the decision to ban pig meat and live pig imports from Britain to prevent the infection from entering the country.

Meanwhile, the British authorities are working to pinpoint the source of the disease and they suspect a possible leak from the local research centre in Surrey. There has been a ban on movement of livestock throughout Britain. Tests are being carried out and the results are expected to be available on Tuesday.

Since the virus outbreak on Friday, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown cancelled his holiday to chair a meeting of the emergency committee.

The UK's last outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in 2001, when up to 10 MLN animals were destroyed, devastated the farming and tourism industries. The government was criticised for its handling of the situation.

But it seems to have learnt lessons. The EU commission has praised the country for its prompt response this time and is satisfied with the way Britain has handled the situation.