Racing On in U.K. Despite Hoof and Mouth Outbreak

Another outbreak of foot and mouth disease in England has not disrupted the racing program, although the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) continues to closely monitor the situation.

Cattle at a farm in Egham, Surrey, in the south of England, were found infected with the disease Sept. 12 and slaughtered. Horses do not contract foot and mouth.

Last month, hoof and mouth disease was found at two nearby farms in Surrey, leading to the suspension of an agreement allowing free movement of horses among Britain, Ireland and France, although horses could still travel provided they had an extra certification.

Only one trainer’s premises lies within the new 10-kilometre control zone around the site of the latest outbreak. That trainer, who can continue to have runners, has been informed of the situation by the BHA.

But this time, four racecourses come within the surveillance zone: Kempton Park, which raced Sept. 12 and carried out vehicular disinfection; Sandown Park, with racing set there Sept. 13-14; Windsor, which does not see action again until Oct. 1; and Ascot, which has its valuable Mile Championships meeting at the end of this month, featuring the group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Stakes.

There are currently no problems about British horses running outside the country.

In 2001, a serious outbreak of foot and mouth disease in the UK devastated the farming community, leading to more than seven million animals being destroyed and costing the agricultural industry an estimated £8 billion ($16 billion), while racing was canceled at a number of venues.

News reports suggest the latest discovery of foot and mouth involves the same strain that infected animals last month. The source of August’s outbreak was found to be the Pirbright site in Surrey, used by both the state-run Institute for Animal Health and vaccine manufacturer Merial, owned by U.S. firm Merck and Paris-based Sanofi-Aventis.

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