Fears were raised today that the foot and mouth crisis that has ravaged the UK countryside for 100 days might linger for months to come.
A new cluster of eight cases reported in Lancashire, 20 miles from the recent outbreak of 31 cases in Settle, North Yorkshire, and was triggered by the movement of people, vehicles and animals, according to officials from the Ministry of Agriculture (Maff).
Since the first cases of the highly contagious disease came to light on 20 February, 1,664 have been confirmed. As a result, 3,095,000 animals have been killed, 63,000 are awaiting slaughter and 21,000 carcasses have yet to be disposed of.
According to a survey conducted by the regional offices of The Country Land and Business Association (Cla), rural businesses are losing an average of £20,000 for every month that the crisis continues. In many cases, earnings have dropped by 50% since last year, as a direct result of the disease.
Earlier this month, Prime Minister Tony Blair stressed that the country was in the “home strait” in its fight against the disease, but now the National Farmers’ Union has expressed concern over the new outbreaks, which came after no cases had been reported in the area for five weeks.