A burning problem

Uk 's woes with the foot-and-mouth disease just don't seem to end. A man suspected of having contracted the human form of the disease is being investigated in northern England. The suspected victima resident of Cumbriathe centre of the foot-and-mouth epidemic sweeping the ukhad been slaughtering farm animals infected with the disease.

While confirmatory tests are carried out on the suspected victimthe burning of slaughtered disease-inflicted livestock has led to copious amounts of toxins being emitted. The environment minister Michael Meacher has acknowledged that the pyres have released dioxin into the air. Till April 6some 5000animals had been exhumedreleasing 63 grammes of the cancer-causing dioxin into the environment. The World Health Organisation caps the maximum permissible exposure to dioxins for an person at around 30 billionths of a gramme per year. The figures came from a study carried out for the uk department of transportenvironment and the region. The government has now launched an inquiry into the health risks posed by the burning of animal carcasses.

The widespread slaughter and subsequent burning of the livestock across the country has not been able to prevent the foot-and-mouth virus from affecting the country's wild deer population. Vets have identified several cases of diseased wild deerssome of which have since died. Veterinary experts say it is impossible to vaccinate or cull wild deer and once infected they will act as a reservoir for the virusrepeatedly re-infecting livestock.

Meanwhilethe people in the village of DevonPetrockstowwhere the burial of 4000animals has been proposedhave expressed grave concerns over its environmental impact. They fear that the burial could contaminate water supplies.

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