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Friday, April 23, 2021

Patriots in London will play this week with added comfort — thanks to the NFL

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By the time the Patriots and Titans roll onto the grass next Sunday, they will be spared further worry about foot-and-mouth, thanks to New England’s invitation to host this year’s Monday Night Football game that originally was scheduled for London.

The reason for that alteration: Londoners who have been afraid to be on public-transportation terminals for fear of seeing emaciated piglets wandering about an area that has proven historically to be covered with pigskin-related viruses. In that strange, old world of soccer, every team gets a chance to lose its game that week in British traffic. This past Sunday, the very next day after that pig-poster disaster, the Patriots came away with a 29-13 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers.

In a statement, the NFL said: “Our primary focus is player safety. The fear that some people have is justified given foot-and-mouth disease outbreaks in Europe, however, we are communicating to our fans to encourage them to attend the game in an atmosphere of excitement. The expectation is that the fear of an outbreak will diminish as soon as those living in the London area become more aware of the facts.”

One of the reactions was a darkly humorous tweet from Paul Hornung, the NFL hall of famer and former Packers quarterback, who wrote, “That’s right, someone needs to call Mass from whatever cell phone he travels from in order to ensure everyone travels in the same direction, no exceptions.”

The CDC’s Red Cross and Steps Out campaigns said in a statement that the risk of infection from the disease is small and, again, “symptoms are similar to mumps or human papillomavirus, and minimal to nonexistent in adults, especially young children and pregnant women.” The center added that it hoped travellers to the United Kingdom would “take all precautions necessary to ensure the continued protection of themselves and their families from infectious disease.”

Foot-and-mouth, called cowpox in the United States, is an inflammation of the tissues that line the small intestine. The CDC reports there have been no confirmed cases of foot-and-mouth disease in the United States since 2003.

An undated example of the medical issues that can arise from foot-and-mouth.

Copyright The New York Times

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