Veterinary investigations are underway into a case of vesicular disease in pigs at an abattoir in Essex.

Although disease has not been confirmed vesicules (blisters) are one of the common symptoms of Foot and Mouth Disease. The Ministry is treating this case as highly suspicious and putting precautionary measures in place.

An 8km movement restriction area was placed around the abattoir just South of Brentwood yesterday following reports of vesicules on 27 pigs. These movement restrictions apply to all farmed livestock within that area.

The infected pigs had arrived at the abattoir on 16 February from two farms; one at Great Horwood in Buckinghamshire and one at Freshwater Bay in the Isle of Wight. 8km movement restriction areas have been placed around these premises today. The farms were already subject to movement restrictions pending further investigation.

The Local Authorities and MAFF Animal Health Offices in the areas concerned are working together to contact farmers within these restriction areas. If any farmer has sick pigs lying down, lame or off their feed then they should contact their local DVM.

Notes for Editors

  1. Further information on movement restriction areas is available from the relevant animal health office: Chelmsford AHO, 01245 356910 and for the Isle of Wight and Buckinghamshire the Reading AHO on 01189 596695

  2. Foot and Mouth disease is a highly infectious viral notifiable disease of cattle, pigs, sheep and goats characterised by the development of blisters in the mouth causing considerable salivation and on the feet resulting in lameness. Death is not usual but animals cease gaining weight and production in dairy cattle falls.

  3. Foot and Mouth Disease is endemic in many parts of the world. The last outbreak of the disease in Great Britain was in 1981. The most recent outbreak in the EU was in Greece last year.

  4. The Food Standards Agency advise that these suspected cases, even if confirmed, have no implications for the human food chain.