Large-scale military exercises due to take place at Fort Bliss in Texas next month may go ahead without equipment from Britain and the Netherlands, because of fears over the spread of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD).

About 25,000 air and ground troops are expected to take part in the exercises between 15 and 30 June, arriving in Texas and New Mexico from the US, UK, Netherlands and Germany.  

Equipment from Germany has already arrived and officials say that this has been allowed because no cases of the highly contagious virus have been found in the country. The Defence Department has forbidden the transportation of equipment from the UK and the Netherlands however, due to fears that the cargo could be contaminated with foot and mouth.

Texas has implemented harsh restrictions against the spread of the virus because it has the largest number of cattle, sheep and goats in the US. The equipment from Europe could still be delivered by air, so long as “extreme precautions” are taken, according to spokeswoman for the Texas Department of Agriculture, Beverly Boyd.