The government has relaxed restrictions on moving animals to slaughter as a third possible case of foot and mouth disease is investigated.

Defra eased restrictions on moving animals to slaughter outside the protection and surveillance zone set up around last Friday's outbreak at a farm in Pirbright, near Guildford, from midnight last night.

“In the view of the chief veterinary officer, the emerging conclusions of epidemiological investigations, and the on-going surveillance and testing indicate that there is a low, but not negligible, risk of the spread of FMD from the protection and surveillance zones to the rest of the country,” Defra said.

It also ordered the cull of animals on a farm next to one of the affected sites in the protection zone “on suspicion of foot and mouth disease”.

Meanwhile, tests on the second case of foot and mouth confirmed within the 3km protection zone earlier this week have found the strain of the virus was the same 01 BFS67-like strain discovered at the first site.