The strain of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) found at a Surrey farm in the United Kingdom (UK) has been identified, the British government said.
The strain in infected cattle is not one normally found in animals, but is identical to that used for vaccines at the Institute for Animal Health (IAH) at Pirbright, three miles (about five km) from the farm, according to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
"The present indications are that this strain is a 01 BFS 67-like virus, isolated in the 1967 foot-and-mouth disease outbreak in Great Britain," the Department said in a statement on Saturday night.
The strain is present at the IAH, and it was used in a batch manufactured in July 2007 by a private pharmaceutical company Merial Animal Health, which on a precautionary basis has agreed to voluntarily halt vaccine production.
The Department could not say the laboratory was the source but has increased the size of the protection and surveillance zones covering farms in the area.
The firm, where the FMD was found, shares Pirbright with the government's Institute for Animal Health, which conducts research into FMD and where the strain is also present.
An urgent assessment of bio-security had begun at the institute. The Department, however, said that it was too soon to reach any firm conclusions.
Meanwhile, Merial said in a statement that "the decision to suspend production has been taken in full consultation with the Department and will enable the Department to carry out a thorough investigation into all possible sources of this outbreak."
Following the outbreak on the farm, a protection zone, a surveillance zone and an air exclusion zone were put in place around the site to try to halt the spread of the disease.
A UK-wide ban on the movement of livestock put in place after the FMD was confirmed at Wolford farm, near Guildford, on Friday night, will continue.
Some 64 cattle have since been culled at the farm after testing positive for the FMD.
The FMD is a highly contagious viral disease which affects cattle with symptoms including fever, lesions in the mouth and lameness. The disease only crosses the species barrier from cattle to human with very great difficulty. The disease in humans is mild, short-lived and requires no medical treatment.
(Xinhua News Agency August 6, 2007)