< > Glossary & References / Miscellaneous Documents List / D35 Discussion Documents for the 2001 UK Foot-and-Mouth Disease Outbreak / Text Sections:
This document was produced by the Environment Agency as a specific response to the FMD outbreak in the UK in 2001 and was made available on their website.
Foot and mouth disease
FMD: Visiting the countryside - how you can help
The main risk of visitors spreading foot and mouth disease comes from people unknowingly transferring infected material. For example, walkers could move dung on their boots from one field to another, where it might then be picked up by an uninfected animal.
However, people not involved in livestock farming are unlikely to spread the virus if they avoid footpaths that are closed and follow other government advice. No case of foot and mouth disease has been traced back to ramblers.
Footpaths crossing livestock farms in infected areas (land at least 10km around a farm that has had the disease) are closed to the public, along with any footpaths going through farmyards and farm buildings on livestock farms. Walkers should follow the guidance posted wherever footpaths are open. This advises people:
The Environment Agency has issued separate advice for people going fishing or using boats.
The following advice on access to the countryside has been issued by the Rural Taskforce
The outbreak of foot and mouth is a critical problem for farming and rural communities. Halting it is a top Government priority.
But visits to the countryside are not banned. Hotels, guesthouses, restaurants, pubs, shops and other businesses are suffering badly because people are staying away. They need your custom.
Many attractions, including stately homes and museums, are open. Many sporting and other events can take place as normal.
You can freely drive, cycle and walk along tarmac roads and visit country towns, villages and seaside resorts. Most footpaths are currently closed, but some may open soon. Where sites are open, you can also stay in caravans or tents, or go sailing, rowing or canoeing.
So when you go to the countryside, please remember:
Finding out more
If you're planning a visit to the countryside and want more detailed guidance, visit the Government's website or call the automated advice line on 08456 071 071. Many local sites and attractions are open, so its also well worth contacting your local Tourist Office or visit the British Tourist Authority's website.
For details in Wales, call the Wales Tourist Board Freephone Information Hotline on 080 80 100000, or the National Assembly for Wales Foot and Mouth Helpline on 029 2082 5572/5578/5586 open 8am-8pm Monday to Friday, and 10am-4pm at weekends.
The Scottish Executive will be issuing separate guidance on access to the countryside in Scotland.
Return to top of page