A possible outbreak of foot and mouth disease is being investigated at a Norfolk pig farm – sparking major worries for the region’s livestock industry.
Defra has enforced a 10km Temporary Control Zone for foot and mouth disease at a farm between Feltwell and Brandon.
The precautionary measure was put in place at 10pm on Thursday “following suspicion of vesicular disease in pigs”.
The control zone, which restricts the movement of “susceptible animals”, will remain in place until vets complete disease tests on the animals.
Defra said preliminary testing “does not indicate the presence of disease, but further work is now under way to fully rule it out”.
Until then, there is an anxious wait from an industry which suffered badly during the last major foot and mouth crisis in 2001, which led to the destruction of six million farm animals and cost an estimated £8bn to the economy.
Norfolk pig farmer Rob Mutimer, who is chairman of the National Pig Association, said he expects to hear the results of the tests this afternoon.
“We have been told that there is a suspicion of a notifiable disease in a pig herd,” he said. “There have been blood tests done for two diseases, foot and mouth and swine vesicular disease.
“That is all we know and all we can say at the moment, but we just have to hope that the results come back negative because it would be horrendous if foot and mouth was to return.”
A Defra spokesperson said: “We are currently investigating a suspected case of foot and mouth disease.
“Movement restrictions and a 10km temporary control zone have been put in place on the farm in Norfolk as a precaution. Preliminary testing does not indicate the presence of disease, but further work is now under way to fully rule it out.”
The APHA (Animal and Plant Health Agency) has informed nearby premises of the suspected case and the restrictions currently in place.