THE British Horse Society has spoken out to dispel rumours that horses kept on foot and mouth infected farms will have to be slaughtered.

But the organisation also urged horse owners to heed warnings to help prevent the deadly virus from spreading.

The society has been inundated with calls from horse owners who have been told that their animals would have to be slaughtered if they were kept on farms infected by the foot and mouth which is sweeping the country.

There have already been three confirmed cases of the disease in Lancashire, including one at a farm in Withnell and another at Slinger's abattoir in Great Harwood.

But a spokesman for BHS said: "Horses cannot get the disease, and they are not "carriers" of the disease in the medical sense.

"Horses would not have to be slaughtered on an infected farm. This has been confirmed to the BHS by MAFF Animal Health Advisers.

"However, they would probably have to be confined for several months, because they can transmit it via their hooves, just as humans can on their boots or cars on their tyres."

The BHS is advising horse owners not to ride out on bridleways, common land, or moorland, and to stay away from roads in rural areas.