An estimated 60 cases of the highly contagious disease were confirmed in cattle on a farm outside the village of Wanborough near Guildford in Surrey, the BBC News reported Saturday.
"Speed is of the essence here" to stop the virus from spreading, said Hugh Pennington, a microbiologist at Aberdeen University.
It's the first outbreak of foot-and-mouth since 2001 when between 6.5 million and 10 million animals were killed to contain the disease, which caused an estimated $17 billion losses for British agriculture and tourism.
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown canceled his vacation and returned to London for meetings on the potential crisis Saturday.
Foot-and-mouth disease rarely affects humans and is so mild when it does, medical treatment is not needed.