updated 8/9/2007 8:34:01 PM ET 2007-08-10T00:34:01

British authorities said Thursday that a suspected new case of foot-and-mouth virus had been discovered, raising concern that an earlier outbreak was not contained.

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A control zone has been set up around undisclosed premises in Surrey outside the existing surveillance area, after an “inconclusive assessment” of symptoms in cattle, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said.

“This is a developing disease situation,” Chief Veterinary Officer Debby Reynolds said. “The containment and eradication of foot and mouth disease remains our priority. This is why we have moved swiftly to put in place a temporary control zone while we investigate this development.”

He stressed that the case has not been confirmed, and noted that “laboratory results will follow.”

Foot-and-mouth disease does not typically infect humans, but its appearance among farm animals can have a swift and possibly far-reaching economic impact — several countries, including the United States, have banned imports of British livestock and Britain has voluntarily suspended exports of livestock, meat and milk products and destroyed more than 100 cows since the outbreak was spotted last week.

The surveillance zone comprises a 6-mile radius around the affected farms where last week’s outbreak was confirmed.

Britain’s health and safety agency says there was a “strong probability” that outbreak originated at the Pirbright laboratory southwest of London and was spread by human movement. The laboratory houses both a government Institute for Animal Health research center and a private company that makes vaccines.

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