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Published Discussion Documents and Official Risk Assessments for the 2001 UK Foot-and-Mouth Disease Outbreak
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The informationis replicated directly and unabridged with the kind permission of the Environment Agency. Further information may be found on http://www.environment-agency.gov.uk/

Wildpro Reference Code: W39.31May01.sib6

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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
May 2001

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:

  • to respect all 'closed' signs
  • to keep away from cattle, pigs, sheep, goats and farmed deer
  • not to feed them or leave waste food anywhere
  • to keep dogs on short leads and not to take them where livestock are present
  • to follow sensible precautions such as cleaning boots between walks and using disinfectant where provided.

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:

  • Rule 1. Obey all "keep out" and "road closed" signs. Do not go on closed footpaths or bridleways.
  • Rule 2. Do not go near cows, pigs, sheep, goats or deer. Do not handle or feed them or leave waste food around.
  • Rule 3. Don't go on farmland or open country or walk dogs even on a lead, unless you are sure that the land isn't used by cows, pigs, sheep, goats or deer.

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.

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