With one confirmed case in France and the continuing rise of cases in the UK, the US, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia banned all imports of animals and fresh meat from the EU.

In the UK, the total number of confirmed cases stood at 214 on Wednesday, while French authorities warned there could be more outbreaks to come. Italian health authorities reported a suspected case in Pescara, south east of Rome, on Tuesday.

The EU banned all exports of live animals, fresh meat and milk from France after the discovery of its first case. The European Parliament is due to debate the issue later today, and the European Commission is expected to present a statement on the latest situation. Germany today advised its citizens not to travel to the affected area in France and have also manned borders patrols alongside its neighbours.

Despite EU protests against an export ban on animals and meat products, US Agriculture Department spokesman Kevin Herglotz, said that the action was taken to safeguard its meat industry, "if foot-and-mouth disease were to enter the US, the cost is in the billions".

EU spokeswoman Maeve O'Beirne said the decision to extend the ban to all 15-member countries was "excessive and not supported by any technical arguments."

US officials also announced a series of measures to combat the threat of foot and mouth disease entering the country. US customs have said that anyone coming to the country from Britain will be subject to stringent controls including having their shoes, luggage, laptops, cameras and even mobile phones scrubbed with disinfectant.

All US tourists to Britain are also being told to stay away from British farms and zoos for five days before returning home. Similar measures will also apply to Europeans crossing the Atlantic.

Earlier, the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organisation warned of the global threat of foot and mouth disease. It said no nation was safe and urged countries to adopt stringent measures to stop the spread of the disease.