Web Date: September 10, 2007
U.K. Government Lab Blamed For Foot-and-Mouth Outbreak
An outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease near a U.K. government lab in August was caused by the lab's failure to maintain its drainage system, say two reports on the incident from Britain's Department for the Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (C&EN, Aug. 13, page 11).
The reports confirm suspicions that arose soon after the first casualties of the cattle disease began showing up in a field very close to the country's Institute for Animal Health, Pirbright Labs, south of London. Merial Laboratories, the animal health joint venture of Merck and Sanofi-Aventis, has a tenant laboratory at the institute site where it had been producing vaccines against the particular strain identified in the outbreak.
The reports said the infectious material probably came from the Merial labs. Pirbright Labs had overall responsibility for the site, however, including the drainage system that led from the Merial labs to the site???s secure disposal facilities. Heavy rains at the time of the outbreak evidently overwhelmed the poorly maintained drainage system.
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