Some U.K. Bridleways Closed Due to Foot and Mouth Disease

Footpaths and bridleways in the area surrounding a farm where cattle infected with foot and mouth disease were located will be closed, the British Horse Society (BHS) announced earlier today.

In the past week, veterinary authorities have confirmed that cattle on two farms near Surrey were infected with FMD. The cattle have been culled.

Horses cannot be infected by FMD, but can carry the virus on their hooves, skin, hair, and possibly in their nasal passages. Therefore, equine movement is often restricted during an outbreak of FMD.

The U.K.'s Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has designated areas surrounding the affected farms as Surveillance, Protection, or Restricted Zones, depending on proximity. Maps designating the most recent Zone borders can be viewed at  

"The horse industry and the farming industry have a very close and symbiotic relationship," said Mark Weston, BHS director of access, safety and welfare. "I would urge all horse riders within the Protection Zones to keep their horses on their own premises for the time being to assist in the prevention of the spread of this awful disease."

The BHS has urged horse owners in the area not to move their horses if they live with on premises where there are susceptible animals (such as cattle, sheep, pigs, goats, llamas, alpacas, and deer). Where there are no such animals, horse owners should not take their horses to farms where there are susceptible animals.

The BHS has released biosecurity guidelines for horse owners on its Web site. The guidelines can be accessed by clicking here.

Lee Hackett, BHS welfare senior executive said in a statement that many horse owners have contacted the Society asking what they can do to minimize the threat of disease spread.

"By publishing these guidelines we hope to help horse owners to support the farming community during what is a very worrying time," Hackett said.

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About the Author

Erin Ryder

Erin Ryder is a former news editor of The Horse: Your Guide To Equine Health Care. She owns a portly gray gelding named Duncan and dabbles in several equestrian disciplines, with an emphasis on dressage.

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