Clinical and laboratory investigations of five outbreaks of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) were made during the early stages of the 2001 epidemic in the UK. The first outbreak, confirmed on February 20, was at an abattoir in Essex which specialised in the processing of culled sows and boars. On February 23, the disease was confirmed at a pig farm in Northumberland which held cull sows and boars fed on waste food; the findings indicated that it was the first of the five premises to be infected. The disease had probably been present since early February, and it was the most likely origin of the epidemic. The other premises investigated were a waste food-fed cull sow/boar pig unit in Essex, approximately 30 km from the abattoir, which was probably infected at the same time or before the abattoir, a sheep and cattle farm approximately 6 km from the Northumberland pig farm, which was probably infected by airborne virus from it in the period immediately before February 13, and a sheep and cattle farm in Devon which had clinical disease from February 20 and was probably infected by sheep transported from Northumberland on February 13 which arrived on February 15.
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