President George Bush has said in a Whitehouse statement this morning that an outbreak of deadly Foot-And-Mouth disease has been confirmed in the United States for the first time since 1929.
The disease, which is usually, though not exclusively confined to cattle, is thought to have been brought to this country by travellers illegally importing infected meat when returning from vacation in the UK.
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has said that two farms have now been identified as having infected cows near Guildford, Surrey, about 30 miles from London. The outbreak is expected to spread to other farms in the area.
In 2001, more than 6 million cattle and other animals had to be destroyed in Britain, but the threat to human population is minimal - only three people died in that outbreak.
Foot-and-mouth is an extremely contagious viral infection that affects mainly cloven-footed animals such as cows, pigs, sheep and deer, but can also be transmitted to domestic pets.
President Bush spoke briefly to confirm that seven cases of the disease had been identified, and that all the animals had now been destroyed. The location of the outbreak was not mentioned.
The President stressed the need for calm, and said that no emergency or panic measures were needed.
"What we don't need, is people abandonising their homes and driving to the countryside", he said.