LONDON (AP) _ A slaughterer who may have Britain’s first human case of foot-and-mouth disease in decades accidentally swallowed fluid from a decomposing carcass, the government said Tuesday.
The man, whose name has not been released, was working on the slaughter of diseased animals in Cumbria, a county in northwest England that has been hit hard in Britain’s two-month-old epidemic of the livestock disease. A spokesman for Prime Minister Tony Blair said he understood that the man was moving a rotting cattle carcass when it burst, sending fluid into his mouth.
The man underwent tests for the disease Monday, but results have not been disclosed.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, the Blair spokesman said there is no health risk to the general population. He pointed out that even if the man in question has contracted foot-and-mouth, the circumstances surrounding his case are highly unusual.
Foot-and-mouth disease is extremely contagious for livestock, but only one previous human case has been reported in Britain _ a man infected in 1966 during the last foot-and-mouth epidemic. The ailment is not considered dangerous for humans, producing flu-like symptoms and short-lived blisters.
Events like this can happen ... but it is very rare and it’s not contagious or life-threatening,″ British Agriculture Minister Nick Brown said Tuesday in Luxembourg.