Sir Brian Follet, Chair of the Royal Society Infectious Disease in Livestock Inquiry, said:

"So far the Government response has been deeply encouraging. The rapidity at which the movement ban was imposed, the cooperation with farmers, the speed of initial diagnosis are all to be applauded.

"At this point much focus is turning towards the source of the foot-and-mouth virus but we would stress that the most important issue is preventing the outbreak turning into an epidemic. The reviews by the Health and Safety Executive and also by Professor Brian Spratt should be able to determine if the virus has escaped and how from the Pirbright complex.

"Clearly we shall need to watch most carefully during the next two weeks to see if more cases are indentified or whether this is an isolated case. At present the need is as before: rapid diagnosis, good surveillance and vigilance by farmers of their animals.

"Should this outbreak begin to turn into an epidemic then the situation changes. Our Inquiry argued strongly that society would no longer accept mass slaughter as the means of containing an epidemic, nor was it necessary. Emergency vaccination is part of the government's contingency plans drawn up after our and other Inquiries. It should be implemented in conjunction with highly selective culling of infected farms and dangerous contacts."

The Royal Society