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UK virus outbreak likely due to Surrey labs

Govt. report links foot-and-mouth outbreak to labs researching and producing vaccines

Kelly Rae Chi
The foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) outbreak identified in cattle on a farm in Surrey, UK, last week most likely originated from virus research and vaccine production labs nearby, according to a government investigation. According to the government's report, released on August 7 by the Health and Safety Executive, the virus may have escaped from Pirbright Labs in Surrey via the facility's water system, or been accidentally carried by people entering and leaving the building. Pirbright houses two separate facilities, the Institute for Animal Health (IAH) and the pharmaceutical company Merial Animal Health Ltd., that research and produce vaccines for FMD. One possibility, the report said, is that heavy rains could have overwhelmed the facility's drainage system, somehow allowing the virus to escape."To us, [the report] is still inconclusive," Steve Dickinson, spokesperson for Merial, told The Scientist. He added that Merial is confident in its biosecurity measures. "We're continuing...

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