Fox hounds at a kennels in Bucks had to be put down after they contracted bovine tuberculosis.

Dogs at the Kimblewick Hunt's kennels, around 14 miles outside of High Wycombe, were suspected of having the disease in December and the outbreak was confirmed a month later by animal health officials.

The Masters of Foxhounds Association (MFHA), the foxhunting governing body, said the hunt immediately suspended its activities to protect farmers and landowners.

But anti-hunting activists have called for all hunting to be suspended indefinitely to ensure the disease cannot spread.

The Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) said an investigation was being carried out to find the origin of the infection.

The organisation said it carried out post-mortem examinations on three dogs, all of which were found to have the bacterium that causes bovine TB, and offered advice to the kennels on how to manage the outbreak.

Options included further testing to identify all infected animals, treatment - which is not recommended - and euthanasia.

Kimblewick Hunt was unavailable to comment on whether any other dogs had been killed, but the League Against Cruel Sports (LACS) claimed at least 40 had been put down.

An APHA spokesman said: "The bacterium that causes bovine TB in cattle has been found in dogs at a kennel in Buckinghamshire.

"The origin and route of this infection is being investigated. Dogs are not considered to play a significant role in onward transmission of bovine TB."

Gudrun Ravetz, president of the British Veterinary Association, added: "M.bovis infections in dogs have rarely been recorded and the risk of infection to other dogs and family pets is very low."

The LACS said the implications of the outbreak were "huge", accusing the kennels and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) of "gambling with the health of the public as well as the welfare of thousands of dogs and livelihoods of thousands of farmers".

But the MFHA said the Kimblewick Hunt was working with Defra, APHA, Public Health England and vets on how to proceed.

A statement on the MFHA website said: "Defra has not imposed any movement or other restrictions, as it does not consider that there is any increased risk to wildlife and farm stock.

"However, the hunt immediately suspended hunting in the interests of farmers and landowners and the wider hunting interest.

"There is only one recently recorded case of a dog with bovine TB in England, some four years ago."