Foot and mouth disease: suspected outbreak on Norfolk pig farm being investigated - what has Defra said?

DEFRA has imposed a 10 kilometre control zone around the Norfolk pig farm after the suspected case was traced to the location

A new suspected case of foot and mouth disease is currently under investigation after being traced to a farm in Norfolk.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has imposed a control zone around the pig farm as a precaution while the investigation is ongoing.

The last widespread outbreak of foot and mouth disease in the UK was in 2007.

An investigation has been launched into a suspected outbreak of foot and mouth disease on a Norfolk pig farm. (Credit: Getty Images)

What is foot and mouth disease?

Foot and mouth disease is a highly infectious viral disease which affects cattle, sheep, goats and pigs.

The virus can cause complications such as lameness and painful blisters in the mouth and under the animal’s hooves.

A widespread outbreak could lead to mass cullings of livestock animals.

The 2007 outbreak saw hundreds of animals killed to stop the spread, while the 2001 outbreak cost the economy more than £8 billion.

During the severe outbreak in 2001, around six million animals were culled over the course of a year and a half.

Can humans catch foot and mouth disease?

In extremely rare cases, humans have become infected with foot and mouth disease after coming into contact with an infected animal.

However, it is important to stress that this is not a common occurance, and therefore, the disease is not considered a public health risk.

According to the World Health Organisation for Animal Health, foot and mouth disease is not readily transmissible to humans.

What has DEFRA said about the suspected case?

DEFRA confirmed that the department was investigating the suspected case at the Norfolk pig farm, while also confirming that a 10km control zone has been introduced.

A spokesperson said: “We are currently investigating a suspected case of foot and mouth disease in England.

“Movement restrictions and a 10km temporary control zone have been put in place on the farm in Norfolk as a precaution.

“Preliminary testing does not indicate the presence of disease, but further work is now underway to fully rule it out.”

What else has been said about the suspected case?

Whlie the introduction of a 10km control zone may seem drastic, experts have assured that this is only cautionary at this stage.

Zoe Davies, former National Pig Association chief executive and current NFU East Anglia regional director, said: “We are waiting, keeping everything crossed and praying it isn’t what they suspect it is.”