Foot and Mouth Disease Detected in U.K.; Some Horse Movement Restricted

Foot and mouth disease (FMD), a highly contagious viral disease of cloven-hooved ruminants, including cattle and swine, has been detected on a farm in Surrey, England. While horses cannot be infected by FMD, they can carry the virus on their hooves, skin, hair, and possibly in their nasal passages. Restrictions on livestock transport during a foot and mouth outbreak could severely hamper the equine industry of a country.

The U.K.'s Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) announced the outbreak Aug. 3. The cattle on the affected premises near Guildford, Surrey, were culled.

According to a statement released Aug. 6 by the British Horse Society, horses within a 3 km (1.86-mile) radius of the affected property can only be moved if licensed. Horse trailers are also restricted from leaving property within this area.

"Whilst there are no restrictions on horse movements outside of the 3 km protection zone, it is important that all horse owners and riders are vigilant and do everything they can to help prevent the spread of the disease and observe the highest of biosecurity measures on and off their own yards," said Mark Weston, British Horse Society director of access, safety, and welfare.

A 2001 outbreak of FMD in England had a major impact on racing and sporthorse events, and the equine industry there was estimated to have lost £100 million ($203 million at current exchange rates) per month in March, April, and May of that year.

For more on the impact of the 2001 FMD outbreak on the horse industry see  

To find more information on the current outbreak see  

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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