No one seems to be owning up as a source of the recent Foot and Mouth outbreak in the UK.
The Official Rreport published on Tuesday in the UK however, suggests that it is very likely that the Laboratory researching the Foot and Mouth virus near the location of the outbreak is the source of the current outbreak.
What is more alarming, is the fact that the report also suggests that the current outbreak is the result of “human action”, either accidental or deliberate!
Research into a range of potentially fatal diseases such as CJD – the human form of mad cow disease, avian flu, bluetongue and many more, are also handled by the laboratories under suspicion as the source of the recent outbreak of foot- and-mouth disease.
Dr Ian Gibson, the former Labour chairman of the Commons Select Committee on Science and Technology, called last night for an urgent review of security at British labs.
“The possibility of a release of the virus from a lab is very worrying. We did a report on biological terrorism and visited the US. There is a real fear that these viruses could fall into the wrong hands. There should be an immediate review of security of British labs.”
The Institute of Animal Health (IAH) lab is carrying out research on diseases including the highly dangerous variant Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease, avian flu, bluetongue, African horse sickness and salmonella in addition to foot-and-mouth disease.
One of its fears is that the labs could become a target for “bio terrorists” who could release a virus to attack the economy.
There are at least 36 other labs licensed to deal with dangerous pathogens in nthe UK.
DEFRA, (the British Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) refused to disclose their locations, saying that it was “too dangerous”.
Alarm about the safety of British labs has been raised by fears that security at the IAH plant or the next-door laboratory run by the US-based private company, Merial, has been breached.
Professor Martin Shirley, the head of the The Institute of Animal Health , blamed the lack of proper funding.
“We’re trying to deliver a Rolls-Royce service for surveillance in the UK, but really we are being funded more and more at the level of a Ford Cortina.” he said.
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