UK hunts for source of foot-and-mouth outbreak

Britain banned the export of livestock and livestock products Saturday after foot-and-mouth disease was discovered on an English farm, and authorities halted the movement of cloven-hoofed animals nationwide in a bid to control the highly infectious virus that devastated the farming industry six years ago. Prime Minister Gordon Brown said officials vowed to work night and day to halt the spread of a disease that led to the slaughter of 7 million livestock and badly damaged the agriculture industry and rural tourism in 2001. The government of the time was heavily criticized for being slow to act, giving the disease a chance to spread. "Our first priority has been to act quickly and decisively," said Brown, who returned to London from a summer holiday to deal with the outbreak. He chaired a meeting of the government's crisis committee, COBRA, on Saturday. Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, or DEFRA, said Britain had banned the export of all animals with cloven hooves, including cows, sheep and pigs. The ban covers live animals, carcasses, meat and milk.