Update with doixin angle: Britain Gives Grisly Details of Foot-and-Mouth Man

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Tuesday April 24 8:18 AM ET Britain Gives Grisly Details of Foot-and-Mouth Man

By Kate Kelland LONDON (Reuters) - A Briton suspected of suffering from foot-and-mouth may have contracted the disease when a rotting carcass he was carrying exploded, spraying entrails into his mouth, government officials said on Tuesday.

Officials released the gruesome description of how a slaughterman in northern England may have caught the virulent livestock disease in an attempt to show the ``unusual circumstances'' surrounding the suspected human case.

``My understanding is that (the man) was moving a decomposing carcass of a cow and that carcass exploded and the fluid went into his mouth,'' Prime Minister Tony Blair's spokesman told reporters on Tuesday.

``I only say this to illustrate how highly unusual the circumstances were regarding this potentially contraction.''

Britain's tourism board scrambled to instill confidence among visitors as the industry reeled from the blow of a suspected case of foot-and-mouth disease in a human being.

Tests results on the man -- who had been working in Cumbria, northern England, where foot-and-mouth has spread like wildfire through livestock -- were due late on Wednesday.

If confirmed, it will be the first case of human foot-and-mouth in Britain since the last outbreak of the disease here in 1966-67. There is no evidence the disease can be passed from person to person.

Health officials said foot-and-mouth was no more serious in humans than in animals. It is not fatal, and symptoms resemble those of mild flu. The spread of foot-and-mouth disease among animals in Britain has slowed although 1,452 farm sites are infected.

The British Tourist Board said the suspected human case was ''obviously not good news'' but said it would continue to reassure visitors that the risk to them was minimal.

Potential visitors from around the world have already been deterred by television footage of the mass burial and burning of almost two million slaughtered animals.

Inquiry Into Cancer Risk

Environmental campaigners say a far greater risk may come from potentially cancer-causing chemicals being spread by the vast funeral pyres of carcasses burning day and night across the country.

The government launched an inquiry on Monday after a newspaper reported that unpublished government figures showed that over a six-week period, in which some 500,000 animals had been burned, 2.2 ounces of deadly dioxins had been emitted into the air.

Dioxins are carcinogens 1,000 times more lethal than arsenic, and a suspected cause of birth defects.

Health Secretary Alan Milburn was due to make a statement later on Tuesday on the health effects of the pyres.

The Isle of Man TT motorcycle races became the latest victim of the foot-and-mouth epidemic on Tuesday. The two-week race meeting set to begin on May 28 was called off by the island's government because of fears that 40,000 visiting race fans could spread the livestock infection, a government spokesman said.

The Isle of Man has so far remained free of the disease.

Britain's Ministry of Agriculture said it had lifted movement restrictions on around 1,900 farms in regions of England were the disease appears to have been stamped out.

-- K (infosurf@yahoo.com), April 24, 2001

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