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Sunday, 2 September, 2001, 06:20 GMT 07:20 UK
More troops to aid disease cull
British army co-ordinates Northumberland cull
The exclusion zone has been extended
More soldiers are arriving in Northumberland to co-ordinate the slaughter and disposal of infected livestock around the latest outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease.

Ten two-man teams from the Newcastle's 101 (Northumbrian) Regiment, Royal Artillery (Volunteers) are already working with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) staff, farmers and field vets.

But the teams will need a 72-hour biosecurity break between working on infected premises and disinfecting points.

So on Sunday another five teams will be drafted in from Durham's Tyne Tees Regiment, Middlesbrough's 34 Signals Regiment (Volunteers) and Newcastle's Queen's Own Yeomanry.

It is not that we cannot cope, it is just that we were beginning to run a little bit faster than we wanted to

Defra regional operations director John Bradbury

A Defra spokesman said: "They [the soldiers] will be making sure that all problems that can arise are dealt with and ensuring contractors follow bio-security procedures."

Defra regional operations director John Bradbury described the move as a "prudent measure".

He added: "It is not that we cannot cope, it is just that we were beginning to run a little bit faster than we wanted to.

"I wanted to bring the Army in before we were galloping along out of control."

Mr Bradbury continued: "Epidemiologists say that when you get foot-and-mouth, you get a flood of cases and you get a long tail.

"Hopefully the action we are taking will help eradicate the disease - when that will happen, I do not know."

Disease statistics
Cases so far: 1,994
Animals slaughtered: 3,778,000
Awaiting slaughter: 15,000

The exclusion zone around the latest outbreak of foot-and-mouth in Northumberland is being extended after a case was confirmed outside the cordon around Hexham.

Farmers' leaders have welcomed the cull, following confirmation of three more cases in the Hexham area on Friday, bringing the total to 16.

Defra said the "blue box" exclusion zone stretching from Hexham in Northumberland to Alston, Cumbria was 220 square miles (352 square kilometres).

It had previously been thought that it was 400 square miles (640 square kilometres).

But it had now been extended by 100 square miles (160 square kilometres) to the north, Defra added.

F-n-m restrictions
The army operation is underway
This followed Friday's confirmation that Greyside Farm, a few miles outside of the zone, in Newbrough, near Hexham, had livestock which had contracted the virus.

The first two-man team was sent to Stelling Farm in Stocksfield, near Corbridge, Northumberland.

This is one of 62 dangerous contact sites identified for culling in the wake of the 16 confirmed cases.

Culling has already taken place on 53 of the contact farms with the remaining nine sites being dealt with on Saturday.

News of the fresh outbreak has come as a major blow to farmers after two days in which no new cases were reported in the county.

The Newcastle Disease Emergency Control Centre said the outbreak meant 15,451 sheep and 2,556 cattle and 22 pigs in the Allendale area of Northumberland had had to be slaughtered and disposed of since Thursday of last week.

A further 1,108 cattle and 6.188 sheep had been culled and were awaiting disposal, and 1,938 cattle and 13,780 sheep were awaiting slaughter, he added.

The BBC's Richard Wells
"The arrival of the army has added new impetus to the fight"
Gordon Meek, NFU
"The army is definitely going to be very welcome"
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