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ROYAL AGRICULTURAL COLLEGE

 

"An effective national animal disease strategy is dependent on frequent objective review, and the allocation of appropriate resources to carry out that strategy," taking Foot and Mouth disease in the UK in 2001 as a case in point.

Christopher Stockdale
 

 

 

Supervisor: JOHN ALLISTON

 

This dissertation is submitted in part fulfillment of the requirements for the degree in MSc. of the Royal Agricultural College, Cirencester

COPYRIGHT DECLARATION

The copyright of this dissertation belongs to the author under the terms of the United Kingdom Copyright Acts. Due acknowledgement must always be made of the use of any material contained in, or derived from, this dissertation.

I declare that the dissertation embodies the results of my own research or advanced studies and that it has been composed by myself. Where appropriate, I have made acknowledgement to the work of others.

 

Signed

Christopher Stockdale

Dated 7th May 2003

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

 

"An effective national animal disease strategy is dependent on frequent objective review, and the allocation of appropriate resources to carry out that strategy," taking Foot and Mouth Disease in the UK in 2001 as a case in point --

Christopher Stockdale, International Rural Development, (Sustainable Agricultural Systems), 2002-3.

Between 20th February 2001 when Foot Mouth Disease (FMD) was confirmed in an abattoir in Essex, and 30th September that year when the last case was diagnosed, the UK was at the epicentre of a Western European incursion of the virulent and globally pandemic 'Pan Asia' Serotype 'O' strain of FMD. After almost 20 years free of the disease, and even longer since the previous major outbreak in 1967/8, agricultural, veterinary and civil service awareness of and provision for such was found sorely wanting.

However, it transpired that warnings, both from European and World experts in FMD, including our own world-leading experts at the Institute for Animal Health and the World Reference Library (for FMD) at Pirbright, and, indeed, even from within the State Veterinary Service itself, had been given but only partially heeded!

Furthermore, the disease impacted upon a society markedly different to that of three decades previously. Fewer farmers worked larger farms with larger flocks and herds but less labour. Stock travelled greater distances to fewer abattoirs. Most especially, a greater proportion of the populace were urban, including, essentially, the elected Government, which latter appeared to be disinterested or even antagonistic to agriculture, farmers and rural Britain.

Increased environmental awareness had changed perceptions of (large) burning pyres, and BSE contra-indicated on-farm burial of stock. Vaccination, which had played a major role in ridding Europe of FMD was discussed, considered, but never used, as were several other recent technological developments.

It was apparent after a few weeks of 'war' with this virus that Ministerial and official pronouncements were often at very great variance to the perceived reality outside the window.

Following the loss of my stock to FMD on the 31st of March 2001, and having spent many hours on the telephone seeking the Truth about the outbreak and this virus, I enrolled at the Royal Agricultural College in October 2001 to refresh and renew my education, credentials and qualifications to further pursue this quest.

This study is therefore a staging post in that process, doubtless incomplete but as thorough as the word limitation and time allowance permit, and will form the basis for ongoing work 'in the field', in both literal and figurative senses.

I resolved to approach my unanswered questions through the hypothesis "An effective national animal disease strategy is dependent on frequent objective review, and the allocation of appropriate resources to carry out that strategy," taking Foot and Mouth Disease in the UK in 2001 as a case in point.

The research Methodology has been part desk-top study, part 'gum-shoe' research, utilising newspapers, academic papers, journals, magazines, books and Parliamentary documents, Radio 4 ('Farming Today'), Television and Video recordings, private conversations and interviews, both by telephone and in the flesh, attending lectures, meetings and Conferences, by virtue of representing a stakeholder body to Smith Square, and by extensive use of the Internet, the www.warmwell.com website as a starting point in particular.

My primary findings are:-

  1. Progressive socio-political de-prioritisation of agriculture coupled to political demand for ever-cheaper food were likely to combine at some point in such a way, or worse, and may again.
  2. Vigilance, and the resources to achieve such, were allowed to fall prior to 2001; this must not be allowed to happen again.
  3. In the scenario above, of diminishing resources, the leading personnel responsible should be superlatively perspicacious and resourceful in their attempts to prevent an exotic disease incursion becoming a disaster. Contingency Plans should have been rehearsed and updated, the recommendations of the Drummond Report implemented in full or the Permanent Secretary or Minister informed that they were not and why. Such did not happen.
  4. A semantic failure in Senior Scientific circles has allowed vaccination to become equated with 'an admission of endemicity', an inaccuracy or prejudice of appalling consequence.
  5. A highly professional, modernising and progressive administration requires farmers to professionalise, and yet deals primarily with the National Farmers Union, a trade Union representing one third of farmers in the market-place -- not a professional Council or Representative body.
The conclusion I have drawn from analysis of the 2001 FMD epidemic, is that indeed an effective animal disease strategy is dependent on frequent objective review, and the allocation of appropriate resources to carry out that strategy, as has been similarly recognised by the requirement that Parliament review the Contingency Plans annually, the Prime Minister personally every three years and so on. However, last April, when this Dissertation was proposed, these issues were still under official review and potentially contentious (and the certainty that independent academic work was examining this topic may have helped sharpen the analysis). The challenge now will remain in ensuring that the plethora of other recommendations are carried out, that further needed research (particularly with regard to the Carrier state), and seminars (especially on modern vaccines, NSP-tests and Rapid--Diagnostic Technology) take place; and ensuring that vigilance, at local, regional, national, European and global levels are maintained into the future.

 

 

 

 

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

 

This work would not have been possible without --

    the assistance of my wife, children and family who have put up with my hermit-like dedication to this task for nearly two years and helped in whatever way that they could. My surviving stock have also put up with sub-optimal farming attention.

    Mary Critchley, author of the www.warmwell.com website, bedrock of the FMD data archive and ongoing debate.

    Alicia and Bill Eykyn, J.P., Founder and Chairman of the FMD Forum, whose dedication to apolitical science and modern humane and sensible animal health control policies have illuminated a path through the darkness, both then and now.

    Prof. F. Brown, O.B.E., F.R.S., whose selfless efforts as "national duty" were a wellspring of hope through dark days.

    Jon Dobson, Research Director, FMD Forum, whose unflagging ability to appear here, there and everywhere, usually with a video camera to record evidence, and whatever other equipment was required, was formidable.

    ----------------------

    The following have also played a crucial part at some time in helping this investigation to proceed:-

    Abigail Woods, MRCVS, who opened my eyes to the true nature of the FMD virus and its control policy.

    Dr. Keith Sumption, now Permanent Secretary to the E.U. Standing Committee on FMD.

    Dr. Simon Barteling, (Netherlands), who having signed Holland into the EU cull policy in 1991, was willing to admit that he had assumed that a major outbreak would be dealt with by vaccination.

    Dr.Paul Sutmoller, (Netherlands), an invaluable source of much current information regarding Vaccine Developments, Carriers, Cervidae and much else.

    Euan Anderson, whose wide experience of FMD in Africa, as a colleague of Prof. Brown as a Researcher at Pirbright, as a TVI who visited my farm during the 2001 outbreak, and as a world respected authority on FMD at the Lyons conference, formed a thread throughout this endeavour.

    Peter Woods, vet of Gloucestershire, Vets 4 Vaccination.

    Fred Landeg- doing what civil servants are supposed to do -- carry out instructions, including the new instructions, extremely thoroughly.

    Mrs. S? , (vet.) who supervised the elimination of my livestock with decency and kindness.

    Carol D? , Page Street, now responsible for national vaccination capability -- good luck!

    Janet Bayley and Paul Berkeley, National Foot and Mouth Group: -- wonderful paperwork.

    Patrick Holden and the Staff at the Soil Association, for pursuing a good policy until such was a lost cause.

    Helen Browning, O.B.E., Meat and Livestock Commissioner, for telling us the Truth about exports (imports).

    Pat and Andrew Thompson, John Nelligan, Tyll Van der Voort and all at Oaklands Park who successfully resisted the cull and found a way for others to do the same.

    Peter and Juliet Kindersley, for fighting a good fight, albeit stopped at Judicial Review.

    Janet Hughes and her family, who gave so much.

    Jane Barribal, for the www.farmtalking .com website and discussion group.

    Julia Currie, for continuing to press for the Truth.

    Hilary Peters, for her ongoing campaign to rescue British agriculture from its worst excesses and inappropriate policies.

    The Council and Officers of the Biodynamic Agricultural Association of Great Britain, who by chance met, and were with me in thought, the day that my stock were shot, and continue to work throughout the UK and with colleagues abroad to secure the acceptance of progressive Animal husbandry practices.

    Val Sinclair, Sue Samson, Val Lusmore.

    Alayne Addy.

    Wendy Vere, veterinary services with integrity.

    Tom Griffith -Jones, for standing up to intimidation.

    Prof. Mercer - for seeking the Truth.

    Brigadier Birtwhistle - for speaking the Truth.

    Dr. Paul Kitching - likewise.

    Jessica Standing - for forwarding documents before I knew why I had to have a computer, verbal communications and support, and helping so much throughout the Epidemic.

    Dr. Ruth Watkins, for modern virological input.

    Phil Owens, NFU rep. for Powys, for telling the Truth.

    Charlie Westhead, and the Staff at Neal's Yard Creamery, who have supported me with companionship, help in many forms and flexitime beyond the point where I dare ask.

    Ellis Price and family, the Turners', Nigel Bowen, Clive Llewellyn, Gordon Preece, the Thomas', Goodwins, Watkins, Williams, Helmes' and many other neighbours who, knowing what I have been doing, have accepted me as a temporary 'student' and expressed support in many diverse ways.

    My former landlords, Prof. D. Jones, Prof. Sonstegaard, David and Angela Middleton and Robert and Caroline Boyle, and a considerable number of their neighbours who helped my outlying stock to survive, despite the home farm being classed an Infected Premise.

    Andy Trim, for a view from over the hill and ongoing discussions on the nature of virus', etc.

    Toby Tennant - for being an inspiration.

    Mary Marshall, for dogged determination and trans-Atlantic perspectives.

    Dr James Edwards, World Veterinary Association, for being genuine, approachable and encouraging.

    Dr James Pearson, Chairman of the OIE, likewise.

    Finally, heartfelt and sincere thanks to my Tutor, Richard Baines, who helped me to move forward, re-enter modern life and select a useful title; my Supervisor, John Alliston, who accepted the task willingly and has been extremely helpful throughout; and the Library Staff at the RAC, always helpful and friendly, who have provided a marvellous service, as indeed have all the Staff, academic and support, that I have had the pleasure and privilege of working amongst these past 18 months.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ABBREVIATIONS AND ACRONYMS

 

A.R.R.I.A.H. - All Russian Research Institute for Animal Health,

B.L. or B.S.L. -- Bio-Security Level

B.S.E. -- Bovine Spongiform Encephalitis

C.A.I. -- Concerted Action Initiative

C.I.A. -- Concentrated Immunogenic Antigen.

C.O.B.R. -- Cabinet Office Briefing Room

C.R.P. -- Coordinated Research Programme

C.S.F. --Classical Swine Fever

C.V.O.- Chief Veterinary Officer.

D.C. -- Dangerous Contact

D.E.F.R.A.- Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

D.F.S.- Disease Free Status

D.I.F.S.- Disease and Infection Free Status

ELISA -- Enzyme-Linked Immuno-absorbent Assay

EMPRES -- Emergency Prevention System (of the FAO)

E.C -- European Community

E.U. -- European Union

F.A.O. --Food and Agriculture Organisation

F.M.D. -- Foot --and --Mouth Disease

F.S.A. --Food Standards Agency

G.I.S. -- Geographical Information Systems

G.M. -- Genetically Modified

G.P.S. -- Geographical Positioning Systems

H.S.E -- Health and Safety Executive

H.Q. -- Head Quarters

I.A.E.A. --International Atomic Energy Authority

I.A.B. --Institute of Biologicals

I.A.H. -- Institute of Animal Health (Pirbright).

I.P. - Infected Premise

M.P - Member of Parliament

M.E.P. -- Member of European Parliament

M.A.F.F. -- Ministry of Agriculture Fisheries and Food

M.L.C. -- Meat and Livestock Commission

N.F.U. -- National Farmers Union

N.S.P. -- Non -- Structural Protein

O.I.E. -- Office International des Epizooties

P.C.R. -- Polymerase Chain Reaction

R.A.S.E. -- Royal Agricultural Society of England

R.C.V.S. -- Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons

S.A.T. -- South African Territories

S.O.S. -- Slaughter On Suspicion

S.P.S. - Sanitary and Phytosanitary (Measures )

S.V.S. -- State Veterinary Service

T.A.D.'s -- Transboundary Animal Diseases

UK- United Kingdom

U.S.A. - United States of America

W.R.L. -- World Reference Library

W.T.O. -- World Trade Organisation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER ONE -- INTRODUCTION AND REVIEW.

 

The management of the outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease (F.M.D.) in the UK in 2001 has been variously described as a 'minor triumph' (Margaret Beckett, Minister of State for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, in the House of Commons, [approximately] 30th June 2001) or as "a disgrace to humanity" (Professor F. Brown, O.B.E., F.R.S., giving evidence to the European Union [E.U.] temporary Standing Committee on FMD, Brussels, (Uhlig 19/6/02). Over 11,000,000 animals were slaughtered in the control of the outbreak (Dobson 2002), despite protestations from many quarters urging the use of vaccination. (Unknown) numbers of people committed suicide and may still do so as a result of Post-traumatic Stress Syndrome, further damage was done to the already fragile rural infrastructure, and the Treasury received a bill for billions; the Institute of Directors estimated a total cost to the country of £20 billion, the National Audit Office came to a lower figure of £8 billion on finding that a lot of moneys apparently lost to the economy were actually displaced, to the detriment of individual businesses but spent elsewhere within the country. Whatever the actual total, which will not be examined in depth in this Dissertation, the sum, including tax foregone, damage to the Tourism industry, increased importation of meat, loss of export markets and the ongoing cost of maintaining landfill sites, is huge.

 

When Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) was first diagnosed in an abattoir in Essex on February 19th 2001, it was its first (recorded) incursion onto these shores for over twenty years. The major outbreak of 1967/8, which itself had affected but not infected large parts of the country, was little more than a distant memory (if that) to the majority of the population, and very few of those responsible for dealing with that outbreak were still active. Lead members of the farming community, however, had not forgotten either the outbreak itself or their fathers' received wisdom about FMD, namely that :-

  1. Vaccination does not work.
  2. Stock valued at the start of the '67/8 outbreak were undervalued in comparison to stock slaughtered later, as fears of restocking shortages drove prices higher; therefore in 2001 prices began high.
  3. 'Selfish, misguided or spineless individuals would try to derail the cull policy, suggesting alternatives such as Homeopathy, vaccination or even allowing natural resistance to occur'; therefore the role of the Chief Veterinary Officer (C.V.O.) and his allies at the National Farmers Union (N.F.U.) would be, as in previous outbreaks, to resist such 'blandishments' at all costs.
 

The 2001 epidemic had all the makings of a tragedy- a populace mostly divorced from and not understanding the nature of farming, sufficiently well educated and experienced, post-B.S.E. (Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy), to distrust both politicians and 'experts', but thereby easily panicked by media scare stories into potentially irrational behaviour; a government not in sympathy with, and distrustful of, agriculture -- composed of politicians who either could not understand why people would work for so little return and therefore felt there must be fraudulent practices on a large scale, or that farmers were over-subsidised wealthy men featherbedded at the taxpayers expense, who were ripe for the same treatment that the previous Administration had meted out to the miners, shipbuilders and printers.

This attitude struck a deep chord across many sectors of the electorate, comprising not only 'working class' resentments but also middle class and meritocratic taxpaying resentment, compounded by two further factors:-

1) Public Relations, supposedly on behalf of farmers, from the National Farmers Union, which roughly translated to the public eye as 'I'm rich, get off my land, you will have genetically modified (G.M) crops whether you like it or not, now buy me a new Range-Rover'.

2) Government reluctance to incur match-funded expenditure for agriculture given the high United Kingdom (UK) cost (81% of such UK borne) following Margaret Thatcher's rebate agreement at Maastricht, the low priority accorded all UK production industries vis a vis the perceived high value skills and knowledge-based service sector, and the declining significance of the non-tourism rural commodities sector, both in terms of employment and as a proportion of the Gross Domestic Product.

Throughout the course of the epidemic, it was widely postulated that the State Veterinary Service (S.V.S.) had been progressively run down to the point where it was scarcely able to satisfactorily fulfill its remit. Whether this was so, and a great many other questions, remained unanswered at the end of the epidemic. These fall into the following five broad categories:-

A. Contingency Plans

B. Vaccination,

C. First Cause -- Origins,

Other.

E. Ethical considerations; the Future.

 

The Questions

A) Contingency Plans.

1) Why the apparent lack of urgency in stopping all movements? (This has now been met by Ministerial assurance that such was a mistake and will not recur).

2) Prior to Feb. 20th 2001, did the UK have a strategy for dealing with an outbreak of FMD, whether small-scale or large, single or multi-focal, natural, deliberate or accidentally released, and if so, were these Contingency Plans published, who received copies and were they rehearsed?

3) Assuming such plans existed, were they implemented, did they work satisfactorily and did they comply with Agenda 21 criteria?

4) Were the E.U. Contingency Plans and the UK Plans compatible, if there were differences, which was to predominate, and who was in charge of implementation?

5) The UK had prior notification that this Serotype, Pan Asia O, was approaching, given its monitored and reported spread Westwards and EU correspondence urging vigilance. Additionally, the outbreaks of Asia 1 in Greece in 2000 reinforced the message that FMD was in Europe and just one dealer-to-dealer transfer away from our shores.

6) Did this precipitate any Contingency Plan revision or exercises, desk-top or otherwise, in slaughter, disposal, vaccination, communications (internal and external), Welfare both Human and animal, or reappraisal of costings in the light of the changed circumstances with regard to Environment Agency directives forbidding the burial of potentially BSE-infected carcasses?

7) Which risk-averse policy maker determined that the sacrifice of nearly 12,000,000 animals was more acceptable than taking a chance on 'unvalidated' new technology, viz, the Cepheid Smart Cycler, and 'virus/vaccine differentiation tests'? The argument that only with hindsight could the true numbers be known does not hold sway as Mr. Roger Ward, NFU regional manager stated that he (and therefore the NFU) were prepared to slaughter all the sheep in the country if that is what it took (witnessed statement given to Janet Hughes in London).

8) Who drove the policy -- the Government, NFU, supermarkets, Cadburys, Nestles, Consumer Associations?

 

B) Vaccination.

9) The Northumberland Report of 1968 recommended that an international vaccine Bank be established to cover contingencies and allow mass vaccination programmes to be implemented. What was the status and quantity of UK reserve antigen and what other sources of supply were available to the C.V.O. on commencement of the epidemic, and, in the light of Prof. Woolhouse's' statement on "Farming To-day"(BBC Radio 4, 4/10/01), that ''Protective'vaccination ('to live') works but would require a massive vaccination programme which in 2001 we were unable to implement quickly', the question arises, why were we unable so to do, and are we better prepared to do so now?

10) Argentina can manufacture 20,000,000 doses of vaccine per month. Is this technology especially suited to a developing country?

11) Are the inherent vaccinology risks associated with this vaccine in any way more extreme (in terms of human ingestion via meat or milk products) than the other 32 vaccines in use in British agriculture at the time (figures, Soil Association).

12) Why were farmers repeatedly told that 'vaccination doesn't work', despite its success in eradicating FMD from Europe prior to 1992, and its successful deployment by the E.U. in Albania, etc., etc?

13) Is it surprising that farmers were wary of using a vaccine when it was proposed?

14) Why were farmers not told that the EU had made provision for drop in value of vaccinated stock and could compensate for such?

15) Which 'anti-vaccinologist' proposed to the OIE in March 2001 that the time period to return to Disease Free Status (DFS) if all vaccinated animals were not slaughtered be increased to two years?

C) First Cause.

16) If illegal infected meat imports lie at the root of the problem, with its massive implications for human as well as animal health, why have the government taken so few steps, so slowly, to avert a reoccurrence or worse?

17) Why was Dr. Colin Fink's offer to produce a rapid viral assay initially accepted in the eye of the Press at Westminster, but then overruled by a representative of MAFF, Mr. F. Landeg, (Question for written answer to Her Majesty's Government from the Baroness Mallalieu, Q.C., dated 9/5/01, and an open letter from Dr. Fink); and why was Biosecurity Level (BL) 4 required for this virus when the Institute of Animal Health (I.A.H.) Pirbright had been working on genetic modification of FMD at BL 2, 3 and 4 and the Health and Safety Executive "papers on the work describe the DNA insert as of 'human origin', and expressed concern should a leak of experimental material occur as it could be 'environmentally persistent'" (Bird, 2001).

18) When is the Government going to reply to the question of the Right Honourable Paul Keetch, (Lib/Dem), Member of Parliament for Hereford, regarding a 'missing phial' of FMD virus, (Hansard, 21/03/01, and personal correspondence with Paul Keetch M.P.).

19) The question of the Genetically Modified (G.M.) oral vaccine trial gone wrong (Prof. Joe Cummins' theory) -- that the outbreak was triggered by a problem arising with a G.M. oral vaccine trial gone wrong, whereby an in-lamb ewe overfed the vaccine- carrying feed could give birth to a 'Typhoid-Mary' type, asymptomatic but infectious carrier.

20) Were two strains of FMD circulating? The clinical symptoms were sometimes said to be obvious and unmissable, on other occasions extremely difficult to diagnose even for experienced Veterinarian Clinicians. This same suggestion arose during the 1967/68 outbreak (private correspondence and the Northumberland Report).

21) Why did the French Government find 7 out of 21 samples positive by Virus Neutralisation test, only later to 'accept' that Pirbright's subsequent negative ELISA (Enzyme-Linked Immuno Assay) re-tests were more accurate, if not only to save losing their Disease Free Status (now 'Disease and Infection Free Status' [DIFS]), and how can the differing Dutch and UK government positions regarding 'Start' dates be reconciled?

D) Other.

22) As national PR what did the cull policy communicate about our Scientific capabilities to the world, in terms of our ability to innovate, implement change, and adhere to a transparently ethical and progressive path?

Is this an image we would wish to repeat?

23) Why were acknowledged experts like Prof. (Fred.) Brown O.B.E., F.R.S., Dr. Simon Barteling, Dr. Sutmoller and Dr. Ruth Watkins sidelined and ignored?

24) Why did Cleansing and Disinfection assume such surreal proportions, far exceeding those deployed in 1967-8?

25) Why have the Government refused to allow a full Public Inquiry, despite all the allegations of a cover-up?

26) The role of the Modellers in delivering politically expedient but morally repugnant policies, and the influence of the General Election timetable for the Prime Ministers 'Historic' Second term in Office on Veterinary Science?

27) Questions of Ecological Economics -- what valuation placed on Human deaths, Environmental pollution, possible long--term health consequences of smoke inhalation, Dioxin ingestion, stress, loss of employment, further degeneration of the fabric of rural society, and erosion of trust and confidence in policy makers and the political process.

 

E) The Future -- Ethical considerations.

28) Has the Department for Food the Environment and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), successor to the late Ministry of Agriculture Fisheries and Food (MAFF), embraced the explicit inclusivity requirements of Sustainability criteria post-Agenda 21 ('Rio'), will Stakeholder Consultation be a real two-way process or purely a window-dressing exercise, will DEFRA co-operate in permitting Stakeholder 'Innovation Monitoring' and 'Communication' Groups to work alongside and with themselves in the interests of transparency in the Total Food Chain, and if so, can we expect rapid influx of new technologies, from updating GIS and GPS technology, through Real-time Diagnostics, on-line Data up- and download, better internal IT and active Stakeholder participation?

29) Our responsibilities for livestock are clearly defined, but our responsibilities to them are not mentioned, as if they are of no consequence other than economic. Is this attitude compatible with the 21st century, and if so, what does this tell us about ourselves?

30) What signs are there of progress, whether of actual cures for FMD, of proven prophylactics, or steps to minimize the trade restrictive nature of the present policy?

-----------------------

 

Her Majesty's Government have decided that a Public Inquiry would be too time consuming and expensive a course of action to take, despite the recent description of the 2001 epidemic as "one of the worst social and financial catastrophes to befall peacetime Britain" (Booker and North, 2001). Many parties throughout the outbreak experienced Truth as being the first casualty of the 'war' waged on this virus, and many questioned whether the damage done, not least to official credibility and parliamentary Democracy, was a price worth paying to salvage a relatively minor export industry, (especially considering the externalised costs; pollution and the damage to the Tourist industry). In his Chapter 'Foot-and-Mouth Disease' in 'Diseases of Sheep', Dr. Donaldson stated "The identification of the origin of an outbreak is especially important for a country that is normally free of FMD so that preventative measures can be taken to ensure that the risk of a repetition is eliminated, or at least greatly reduced". These factors, plus a determination to understand the scientific, trade and political complications arising from this particular 'high morbidity, low mortality' virus, and concern should a 'high mortality, high morbidity' exotic virus gain a foothold on these shores, have led me to question the state of national preparedness either to prevent or to deal with such an event.

In the course of this Dissertation, I would therefore like to examine the unanswered questions through the following hypothesis:

"An effective National animal disease strategy is dependent on frequent objective review, and the allocation of appropriate resources to carry out that strategy," taking Foot and Mouth Disease in the UK in 2001 as a case in point.

 

 

 

 

Strategy proposed to address the hypothesis.

 

I propose to assemble and study as much relevant data, via the methods listed below, as can be obtained in the time available, and then interrogate and analyse that data, to create a framework from which logical conclusions can be drawn. I have to date attended three national and one major international Conference(s) on the topics of FMD and Contingency, containment and eradication policies worldwide, and have read around the topic, consulted with various experts in the field, and elicited invitations for further contact. I am also (as of January 2003) attending 'DEFRA Stakeholder FMD Policy Meetings' on behalf of a national Organisation, which although Confidential, are enabling me to engage in dialogue with more of the relevant persons and other Stakeholders.

 

Proposed Research Methods.

The method proposed for deriving the necessary and relevant data is to search the databases in order to examine all or most of the following:-

The National Audit Office (N.A.O.) Report.

The Report of the 'Lessons Learned' Inquiry.

" " " " Royal Society " .

" " " " " " of Edinburgh Inquiry.

The Reports of the three Regional Inquiries -- Devon, Northumberland and Cumbria.

Various submissions and annexes to the above.

Hansard.

EU Contingency plans- various.

UK " " " .

Other national Contingency Plans, and rehearsal documentation i.e. Australia and the U.S.A..

Historical literature, i.e. The Northumberland Report, etc..

Contemporary literature regarding exotic and Transboundary Animal Diseases (T.A.D.'s), virology, vaccinology, Rabies, Tuberculosis, international initiatives in the field of disease control etc..

Newspaper, Magazine and Journal articles.

Radio transcripts and recordings.

Television and video recordings.

Internet websites.

Unpublished articles, Doctoral theses, etc..

Public correspondence.

Private correspondence.

Conference and Meeting Abstracts, Minutes and Notes.

In addition:-

Notes from personal conversations, in the flesh, by telephone or dialogue by e-mail, or, in a few exceptional instances, formal face to face interview.

 

 

Structure of the Dissertation.

 

The Dissertation has eight Chapters, plus two Appendices. The Chapters take shape as outlined on the Contents Page.

In addition, this Dissertation will contain the usual Reference and Bibliography sections, constructed according to the Harvard Referencing system.

 

 

Conclusion.

 

In this Introductory Chapter I have stated the many disparate questions arising from the 2001 UK F.M.D. epizootic and attempted to marshall them into a format that will permit of useful analysis.

The third Category of Questions, namely those relating to the 'First Cause' of the outbreak will not be dealt with in this Dissertation for two reasons:-

1) to better focus on forward-looking proposals, strategies and Policies and outcomes - however the epizootic began, we got it.

2) I am in any case not empowered to demand access to the Documentation, Personnel, etc., necessary to truly penetrate to the heart of this mystery, without which all inquiries, in the absence of evidence, become mere speculation.

By excluding this 'First Cause' category, I will focus on the three remaining (broad) areas, namely

    1. Contingency Planning,
    2. Vaccination, (state of readiness both 2001 and at present) and the rationale behind resistance to its use and
    3. Recent technological innovations.
By so doing I hope to be able to ascertain whether or not our Exotic Animal Disease strategy was then or is now subject to frequent objective review and to gain insights into whether the resources available to those attempting to implement it were and are sufficient. I will then conclude with a brief Chapter expressing avenues and reasons for hope for a better future with regard to U.K, E.U., and global FMD policy.

By virtue of its nature, as the Planet's most contagious virus, Foot and Mouth Disease control Policies tend to pioneer the response to other exotic animal disease incursions, forming a template which, with minor relevant adaptations can be utilised for other diseases; for this reason FMD will predominate in this Study.

The ever-present prospect of Bio-terrorism, reinforced since '9/11', has impacted slightly on the free availability of certain information, particularly with regard to security-sensitive issues which I shall therefore not recite here.

Before examining the Topics above, it will first be useful to look at the background. In Chapter Three I will outline the History of this disease, its impact on International Trade and the delineation of the different phyto-sanitary grades of product. Before that, in the next Chapter, I will examine the Epidemiology of this Epizootic.

 

Chapter Two -- the Epidemiology of the UK 2001 epizootic in the context of the global epidemiology of this Pan Asia O and other strains.

 

In the previous Chapter I listed some of the questions outstanding at the end of the FMD outbreak and outlined those which I could reasonably investigate in this short work. In this Chapter I propose to outline the epidemiology of the outbreak, to provide a background from which to examine the disease, its prevention, control and elimination and to facilitate the subsequent analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the UK Contingency Plans of 2001, in Chapter 5.

Foot and Mouth Disease -- Background.

Foot and Mouth Disease, a class 'A' disease as classified by the Organisation International des Epizooties (O.I.E.) in Paris, notifiable in the UK under the Animal Health Act, 1981, is caused by the Picornaviridae Apthovirus, and is an "extremely contagious, acute viral disease of all cloven-footed animals ? characterized by fever and vesicular eruption in the mouth and on the feet and teats" (Radostits, Blood & Gay 1994: 965-974), and is "probably the most contagious virus known in mammals" (Royal Society 2002:18), affecting more than 33 species. Due to its enormously damaging impact either directly on production or, perhaps more significantly, arising both from its control and trading implications, a great deal of scientific endeavour has been expended on attempting to deepen our knowledge of this enigmatic life-form, the better to combat it in the field. Much has been learnt but far more remains as yet a mystery.

 

Symptoms in affected stock vary from species to species, in time taken for onset of both sub-clinical and clinical infection, in severity of illness, with regard to the post-infection 'Carrier' status, and depending on how large the infectious challenge the animal has been exposed to. Additionally, this will vary from 'serotype' to serotype, of which 7 have been identified - O, A and C, and Asia 1 and the three 'South African Territory's' serotypes, known as SAT's 1-3; and from 'topotype' or sub-type within each serotype, of which about 80 have been identified (Radostits 1994: 965-974). Furthermore, the virus will continue to evolve in the field, usually at a gentle pace but occasionally with great rapidity. A creature can be infected with more than one strain (serotype or topotype), and immunity to one strain, whether naturally acquired or via vaccination, may not provide protection against challenge from a new strain.

Vaccination, whether Prophylactic or Emergency, is not a universal panacea. Prophylactic vaccination, successful in ridding Europe of endemic FMD, was dropped in favour of the British 'stamping-out' method in 1991, as vaccination (in conjunction with slaughter of proven infected stock) had attained the point where such an approach, coupled with the superior Pan-European trading possibilities thereby opened up, appeared more cost-effective (although 'it was always assumed that any major incursion would be dealt with by emergency vaccination' - Dr. Simon Barteling, personal communication, 13/6/01). Emergency vaccination presents additional complications -- assuming correctly administered doses of pure and inactivated vaccine, even with a high-potency, high-payload dose, immunity is neither instant nor permanent and progeny of vaccinated stock will lose their inherited maternal protection after several months, leaving 'rents' in the fabric of seamless protection unless immunity is conferred sufficiently early -- perhaps at two months, as was the practice in Germany.

More significantly, present vaccines do not 'induce sterilizing immunity in the respiratory tract of sheep and cattle,' (Donaldson and Woolhouse 2001: 515-6) resulting in the presently unquantified, albeit low, risk of creating 'carrier' animals, that is asymptomatic but potentially infectious, apparently healthy, vaccinated, (recovered or sub-clinically infected) stock.

 

This 'carrier' status is the major impediment to the use of vaccination, as countries holding the cherished 'Disease Free Status -DFS' (now 'Disease and Infection Free Status- DIFS') are extremely averse to losing such, and are therefore most unwilling to take any risk of importing FMD by means of any of its vectors, with all the consequent waste, loss, damage and misery such entails; in addition and conversely, the opportunity to 'make hay while the sun shines', exploiting their non-trading partners' discomfiture to increase their own market share, is an economic reality of global trade. However, a great deal of circularity ensues in this argument, predicated upon the unproven infectiousness of the 'carrier', the unquantified risk from which continues to inhibit trade in vaccinated animals and products therefrom (although see Chapter 6 and 7). For many years, the Developed World has had little incentive to attempt to ascertain the actual risk 'carriers' entail, as the perception of such suited 'first world' producer and trader criteria, by presenting a legitimate phyto-sanitary distinction and gradation of product (see Chapter 3) which maintained high 'home' producer prices yet allowed the importation of cheaply purchased commodity products following rigorous sanitation procedures. Calls for this risk to be better ascertained are now being heard in Europe, (J.R. Crowther of the International Atomic Energy Authority, Vienna, and formerly of Pirbright, W.R.L., called for such at the Conclusion of the International Conference on FMD, Lyon, 2-5 June, 2002), although funding for said work is presently unsourced.

Given its ready potential to cause actual or economic damage to a countries' overall economy, and given the drastic measures required to 'stamp it out', it is little surprise both that farmers dread the disease, and that Governments are perennially concerned lest such should be used against them in a deliberate bio-terrorist attack, the response to which, would of course, depend on the relative merits of elimination versus acceptance and rapid developments in diagnostics and cure.

 

Foot and Mouth Disease -- Characteristic Symptoms and Effects.

To quote again from the Royal Society Report (page 18),

"Cattle, sheep, goats, pigs and buffalo are the most important susceptible species among farmed animals. The disease is characterised by a short fever, loss of appetite, dullness, vesicular lesions and lameness. The lesions of the mouth, tongue and feet are especially severe in cattle, as are foot lesions and lameness in pigs. In smaller ruminants, such as sheep and goats, the disease often takes a milder form in adult animals. In young animals, especially lambs and piglet, the virus can cause an acute myocarditis resulting in sudden death. Survivors are left in a weakened state and can succumb at a later stage. During the outbreak of 2001 lamb death was sometimes the presenting sign that FMD virus (FMDV) was present on a farm".

FMD is often regarded as a high morbidity/low mortality disease, although on specific occasions mortality in young-stock has been known to be high -- 90, 50 and 25% respectively in lambs, pigs and calves, (Royal Society 2002:19) (although what complicating factors, such as poor nutrition, bad management or poor husbandry were associated with these statistics is not recorded). Mortality in adult stock is low; UK statistics are of necessity old, and perhaps cast little light on the present system. Parts of the world where FMD is endemic furnish us with more current information, albeit information which cannot necessarily be transposed directly onto a Western European context. The Royal Society Report continues:-

 

"Ellis and Putt estimated the effects in those areas of Kenya where commercial cattle rearing was important. Mortality rates varied from 2% in unimproved Zebu cows to 5% in improved dairy cattle. Abortions occurred at a level of 8%, and there were delays in conception of some 8 weeks. If a lactating cow became infected there was a 50% decrease in milk yield that was not recovered during that lactation. Growth of young animals was badly affected, delays of six months on reaching maturity not being uncommon."

 

 

 

 

 

Table 1. Epidemiology and Chronology of the 2001 outbreak in the UK.

[Please note -- entries in bold are my emphasis, and highlight issues of critical importance].

[13th February. Clinical symptoms apparent in a contact herd within 500 metres of a staging post for imported stock from the UK and Ireland. FMD and anti-body positive sheep, ex UK, confirmed by Virus Neutralisation test in France. (Representatives of the CVO's of the France and the Netherlands, (2001): 27, and 34-5)]

19th Feb. FMD suspected at Cheales Abattoir, near Brentwood, Essex.

20th Feb. FMD confirmed by the World Reference Laboratory (WRL), Pirbright.

Army alerted to possibility of need for assistance.

21st Feb. FMD serotyped by Pirbright as the pandemic serotype 'O', "(now named the 'Pan Asia' strain )" (Knowles., et al. [2001]: 258).

E.C impose a temporary ban on all exports of live animals, meat, fresh milk and other animal products.

23rd Feb. FMD Disease Declaratory (Controlled Area) Order 2001 (the 'Movement Ban') made for England and Wales and identical legislation made in Scotland -- movement of susceptible animals and carcasses banned for seven days, (except under licence) plus fairs, markets, shows or other gatherings of animals.

FMD confirmed at a farm near Heddon -- on -- the Wall which had supplied pigs to the abattoir in Essex; according to MAFF, infection at this farm appeared to have been present for 'two or three weeks'. (Anon., [3/3/01] Veterinary Record. 148(9): 254-256)

This came to be regarded as the 'Index Case'.

Minister of Agriculture Nick Brown urges members of the public to assist by staying away from livestock farms.

26th Feb. CVO reports that sheep from the Devon dealers' farm (0007) had been exported directly to Germany on Feb.12th. All such slaughtered.

27th Feb. Movement ban extended until midnight on Friday March 16th.

Horse racing suspended.

28th Feb. 11.00am, 22 cases confirmed, in 10 counties (Essex 4, Devon 4, Northumberland 3, County Durham 2, Herefordshire 2, Wiltshire 1, Anglesey 1, Lancashire 2, Northamptonshire1, Powys 2).

1st March. First outbreak declared in Northern Ireland.

First cases confirmed in Scotland, Dumfries and Galloway.

6th March. By 19.00 hours:- 80 outbreaks confirmed, (plus one in Northern Ireland).

"The agriculture minister reiterated that the government was determined to stamp out the disease by limiting movements of animals and slaughtering infected and in-contact animals and destroying their carcasses; having embarked on that policy, it intended to see it through to its conclusion.". (Anon. [10/3/01] Veterinary Record. 148(10): 286).

The EC Standing Veterinary Committee met, recommended an EU-wide suspension of Markets etc., disinfection of tyres of vehicles entering from the UK , and considered vaccination but rejected it as being inappropriate "for a number of reasons, including the limited excretion of virus by infected sheep and consequently the very limited windborne spread of the disease?" (Anon. [10/3/01] Veterinary Record. 148(10):286).

'Ad hoc' group comprising Sir John Krebs, the Imperial College 'Modellers' et al meet at the FSA.

11th March. Disposal problems becoming clear: 40,000 carcasses lying on the ground in Cumbria alone (Anderson 2002: 79).

Minister of Agriculture emphasised (on BBC TV'S 'Breakfast with Frost') that he was "absolutely certain" that the disease was under control.

13th March. 200+ outbreaks confirmed.

First outbreak confirmed in France (Mayenne).

15th March. 3 Kilometre-Firebreak cull announced.

Livestock Welfare Disposal Scheme announced.

16th March. Epidemiological Modellers express concerns regarding 'R o ', the case-reproduction number, or average number of new cases generated by one current case.

17-18th March. Two army Officers despatched to MAFF HQ to assess needs and feasibility of assistance.

19th March. First military logistic deployment to Devon.

21st March. First cases announced in Holland --Gelderland and Overijsel.

Cabinet Office Briefing Room (COBR) opened, Prime Minister assumes personal control.

22nd March. First case announced in Ireland, County Louth.

23rd March. Agriculture Minister 'not ideologically opposed to vaccination', reluctant to use such but would consider it 'if it could make a positive contribution to resolving the crisis' (Anon. [31/3/01] Veterinary Record. 148(13): 392).

The 'ad hoc Science Group' met with the Chief Scientific Officer and the Chief Veterinary Officer.

Government Chief Scientific Officer, Prof. David King recommends more stringent action.

24th March. Contiguous Cull announced.

Slaughter on Suspicion Policy (SOS) announced.

Government Chief Scientific Officer formally warned that the disease was "out of control".

Prof. Brownlie, (Professor of Veterinary Pathology, Royal Veterinary College), is published stating that "new proposals currently being considered" (by the OIE inferred) "would extend the time period to two years if all vaccinated animals were not slaughtered" (Brownlie 2001: 358-360).

1100 Vets in the field (source, CVO)

25th March. Industrialisation of slaughter at Great Orton airfield announced.

26th March. 'Ad hoc Science Group' now formalised as the 'FMD Science Group' (sometimes renamed 'the Modelling sub-committee' rather than a full FMD Science Group), under the Government Chief Scientific Officer, Prof. King (Anderson [2002]: 91)

27th March. 668 cases confirmed.

1235 SVS Vets in the field. (Source, Minister N.Brown)

Minister of Agriculture proposes the banning of swill-feeding to pigs.

28th March. 693 cases confirmed.

30th March. 1313 SVS vets.

Epizootic peaks, at 50 IP's/day.

2nd April. Local elections, planned for 3rd May, postponed.

4th April. 1,000 cases.

Permission obtained from EU Standing Veterinary Committee for use of emergency vaccination of cattle in Cumbria and Devon (Anon. [7/4/01] Veterinary record. 148(14): 421).

By April 7th. 20-Day Standstill -- permanent imposition discussed.

8th April. Average of new cases per day for the week ending April 8th was 32, compared with 43 for the week ending April 1st -- a "cautiously encouraging flattening out" of the epidemic, according to the Chief Government Scientist, Prof. King (Anon.[14/4/01] Veterinary Record. 148(15): 458).

10th April. "Scientific Group unanimously recommended vaccination of the housed cattle in Cumbria" (Anderson 2002: 125).

12th April. Maundy Thursday -- Summit meeting called by the Prime Minister at Chequers.

14th April. Two further outbreaks in Northern Ireland.

Prof. Brownlie reported in the 'Veterinary Record' as stating that 'introducing a policy of general vaccination would be to accept that the disease was endemic' (Anon. [14/4/01] Veterinary Record. 148(15): 460-1).

18th April. 'Vaccination of housed cattle in Cumbria and Devon an attractive option' -- Prof. King and CVO Scudamore (Anon. [21/4/01] Veterinary Record. 148(16): 490).

The public 'totally bemused' by the vaccination debate (Anon. [21/4/01] Veterinary Record.148(16): 489)

19th April. The disease now "fully under control" -- Prof. King (Anon. [28/4/01] Veterinary Record. 148(17): 517).

 

April 20th. President of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (R.C.V.S.) Roger Eddy, writes to the Prime Minister requesting that greater account be taken of local circumstances when deciding which animals should be included in the Contiguous Cull (Anon. [28/4/01] Veterinary Record. 148(17): 519).

Westminster Central Hall, Soil Association press conference on Vaccination and the consumer.

23 April. First animals caught up in Surveillance Zone sent for slaughter for use in the human food chain.

Local Veterinary Risk Assessment permitted.

24th April. Press Conference and Meeting in the House of Lords, Prof. Brown and members of the Science Group.

26th April. Contiguous cull 'refined', following 'Phoenix the calf' incident; cattle may be spared; rare breeds and hefted sheep to be exempted from the (automatic) contiguous cull.

3rd May. "We are now on the home straight" -- Tony Blair, Prime Minister.

Announcement of total ban on swill-feeding with effect from 24/5/01.

9th May. 1569 cases.

19th May. Settle cluster Jim Scudamore noted that 11 cases confirmed in the Settle area since 10th May, plus 1 in Clitheroe (Anon. [28/4/01] Veterinary Record. 148(17): 519).

Vaccination again considered.

27th May. Weekly average number of cases up to 5 per day compared with 3 per day the previous week (Anon.[2/6/01] Veterinary Record. 148(22) :674).

30th May. The "fluctuating phase" towards the end of the epidemic (J.Scudamore). Strategy unchanged, although more animals being blood tested (Anon. [2/6/01] Veterinary Record. 148(22): 675).

3rd June. Weekly average number of cases 6 per day (Anon. [9/6/01] Veterinary Record. 148(23): 704)

4th June. MAFF issued a statement denying plans for a mass cull after the Election.

7th June. Post election, MAFF replaced by DEFRA, Nick Brown replaced by Margaret Beckett. Creation of the Civil Contingencies Secretariat.

10th June. Weekly average number of new cases falls to 5 per day.

21st June. Margaret Beckett announces relaxation of Movement Restrictions (Anon. [30/6/01] Veterinary Record. 148(26): 795).

4th July. DEFRA launch Biosecurity video.

7th July. 'Idiopathic mouth ulcers in sheep' -- letter plus supporting documentation in the Veterinary press (De la Rua,Watkins and Watson 2001:31)

10th July. Thirsk 'hotspot'; danger of spread to the 'virus factories' (pigs) of North Yorkshire, Humberside and East Anglia, (quoting Fred Landeg, of Page Street, SVS HQ). Vaccination seriously considered again. "Ministers made clear that the potential impact on disease control" (of vaccination) "was so great as to override all doubts about vaccination" (Anderson 2002:128).

23rd July. Lord Whitty announces the 'Blue Box' (enhanced Biosecurity provision) in North Yorkshire (Anon. [28/7/01] Veterinary Record. 149(4):100).

7th August. 'Blue Box' extended to Penrith, Cumbria.

9th Aug. Margaret Beckett announces that there will be three separate inquiries, but no formal 'Public Inquiry'.

12th Aug. Weekly average number of new cases down to 3 per day.

19th Aug. Weekly average number of new cases down to 2 per day.

28th Aug. Livestock Welfare Disposal Scheme extended (from Sept.3rd) but payment reduced to£10/ head for light lamb.

Greater volume of movements to be permitted (Anon. [1/9/01] Veterinary Record. 149(9):255).

2nd September. Weekly average number of new cases 3 per day.

11th Sept. Scotland designated disease-free (91 days).

17th Sept. Thirsk 'Blue Box' lifted.

Autumn Livestock Movement Scheme begins (slowly).

23rd Sept. Weekly average number of new cases 1 per day.

30th Sept. Last case confirmed.

8th October. Devon Inquiry, Chaired by Prof. Mercer, begins.

31st Oct. Publication of proposed Animal Health Bill (Act), giving wider powers to cull, including 'Firebreak' culling, for entry onto farms for vaccination or serology, and to allow reduced compensation for farmers following poor Bio-security practices (Anon. [10/11/01] Veterinary Record. 149(19): 570).

Restriction on exports begin to be relinquished, county by county.

7th November. DEFRA removes 'Infected Area' designations from large areas; Hexham, Penrith and Skipton remain.

27th Nov. Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown, states that the cost to the government of the FMD epizootic has been to date £2.7 billion (Anon. [8/12/01] Veterinary Record. 149(23): 693).

28th Nov. Last 'Infected Area' designation lifted.

1st January 2002. Last big cull -2067 sheep slaughtered in Northumberland either as "dangerous contacts as a result of sero-positive blood samples or slaughter on suspicion cases" in which "no evidence of foot and mouth virus has been found" (Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Elliot Morley, in answer to a question [41685] from Mrs. Anne Winterton, June 2002).

15th Jan. All counties FMD-free.

22nd Jan. OIE Meeting confirmed UK's international FMD --free status.

5th February. EU Standing Veterinary Committee lift the remaining export restrictions.

11th March 2002. Final (one) animal (ovine) killed following serosurveillance in North Yorkshire.

 

 

The Global Context.

In one of his two chapters in the recent OIE Scientific and Technical Handbook, Yves Leforban of the EUFMD Commission and the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO Rome) enumerates the incidence of FMD within Europe in the decade prior to 2001 (Leforban 2002; 549-556). Upon the cessation of Prophylactic vaccination in 1991, experts had predicted that the EU would experience 13 primary outbreaks, leading to 20 secondary outbreaks apiece over the decade -- a total of 273 outbreaks therefore being envisaged. In practice, the virus was introduced 21 times, but with an average of only 15 secondary outbreaks, leading to a total of 343 outbreaks. The conclusion drawn was that although the number of incursions was higher than predicted, this should be off-set against expansion of the EU during that period.

In September 2000 a gathering of experts in FMD were asked to assess the risk of FMD entering Europe, and although envisaging that such would happen, considered the UK "to be a low-risk country" (Leforban 2002: 552) (because FMD has usually entered modern Europe from the East). However, this must be set in the context of a global awareness of the advance of the 'Pan Asia' O strain across the globe from East to West, and the experts would doubtless have assumed that the recommendation below would have been heeded:-

"At the end of 1999, and in early 2000, the Executive Committee of the EU FMD Commission warned member countries of the accrued risk of introduction of FMD into Europe and asked them to reinforce their preventive measures " (Leforban & Gerbier 2002: 477-492).

The World Reference Laboratory at Pirbright is not part of DEFRA (formerly MAFF), nor of the State Veterinary Service; however, links between the three are close, and it is inconceivable that awareness of impending FMD problems at Pirbright should not have reached Page Street (H.Q of the SVS). In quick succession, 'Pan Asia O' had ravaged the economies of Taipei China (1997 and 1999), Korea, and Japan (2000), (countries which had been free of FMD for 68,66 and 92 years respectively), as well as Mongolia and Far Eastern Russia (also 2000).

Indeed:-

"The World Reference Laboratory (WRL) for FMD in the UK (Institute for Animal Health, Pirbright Laboratory), which provides a service that enables classification of FMDV's into related groups based on the results of nucleotide sequencing, confirmed that the type O viruses isolated in Japan (O/JPN/2000), the Republic of Korea (O/SKR/2000) and Mongolia (O/MNG/2000) were members of the Pan-Asian O lineage" (Sakamoto & Yoshida 2002: 459-464)

 

From the time of the first manifestation of this new 'O' lineage of FMD in India in 1990, through its initial spread westwards into Saudi Arabia (1994), then via the Middle East to Turkey, Bulgaria and Greece (1996), and eastwards via Nepal (1993) to China (1999), Korea, Taiwan and Japan, the experts at Pirbright would have been aware of its extreme virulence, a virulence the more effective due to an adaptive capability, whereby a range and variety of pathogenicities were observed, including Taiwanese Yellow cattle that were able to transmit infection to other stock (Chinese Yellow cattle) without showing clinical symptoms themselves, and atypical, mild, almost asymptomatic presentation such as was diagnosed by the astute (and later, officially commended) veterinarian who first identified FMD in Japan by sole reason of the rapidity of infection (Sakamoto & Yoshida 2002: 459-464).

In September 2000, South Africa suffered an incursion of Pan Asia 'O', the same month in which top experts from Pirbright presented a paper at Borovets entitled 'Emergence of a pandemic strain of foot-and--mouth disease virus serotype 'O'' (Knowles et al 2000). However, even as they met, the attention of the CVO of the UK was directed towards the eradication of another exotic animal disease, similarly known to commonly spread from improperly-treated swill fed to pigs (or via [Artificial Insemination] semen), namely, Classical Swine Fever (or Hog Cholera). Sadly, the outcome of this precursor to the events of 2001 was not to sharpen wits and defences but to further preoccupy and exhaust those diminished number of SVS vets and resources not already absorbed into TSE-related duties. I shall return to this topic in Chapter 5.

 

 

Conclusion.

 

In this Chapter I have outlined the key points and the chronology of the epidemiology of the outbreak and this 'Pan Asia' O serotype in its global context. In the following Chapter I will set this outbreak in the context of the history of the disease in the UK, concluding with the International trading arrangements in place on 19th February 2001 and those at present.

 

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER 3. The History of Foot and Mouth disease (FMD) in the UK, the significance of fmd in International Trade, and the ORGANISATION INTERNATIONAL DES EPIZOOTIES' (oie's) phytosanitary grades of production.

Introduction.

In the previous Chapter I outlined the key events in the epidemiology of the 2001 United Kingdom (UK) epidemic. In this chapter I will give a brief summary of the history of FMD in the UK, and the trading rules that have evolved around that position. This is necessary, as I shall show, for a full understanding of the disease control and Contingency Plans, which I will detail in the following Chapter and discuss in Chapter 5.

The History of Foot and Mouth Disease in the UK.

Foot and Mouth disease is not endemic to the UK -- hence its definition as an 'exotic' or foreign disease. The first known instances of FMD were those recorded by Fracastorius writing in 16th Century Venice, the disease first reaching the shores of the British Isles in 1839, whereupon it rapidly spread amongst a 'naive' population to became an 'accepted indeed expected occupational hazard' (Woods 2001), a troublesome but relatively minor condition in the overall canon of disease to which stock were then exposed. In 1869 State control of FMD by movement restriction was appended onto legislation to control Cattle Plague, a far more serious disease; "many veterinarians, farmers and MP's rejected the need to control FMD, upon the basis that firstly the disease was not severe enough and that losses due to legislative 'cure' would outweigh those inflicted by the disease itself" (Woods 2001: 2).

However, the drive for eradication was led by influential Pedigree breeders, many of whom were well-placed as Members' of Parliament (MP's), members of the Royal Agricultural Society of England (RASE) or both; Pedigree breeders losses were greater than those of Commercial producers, as their potential returns were so much the greater. (It has also been suggested that more highly-bred stock may be more susceptible to or suffer worse from, FMD). Thus in 1871 the disease became 'Notifiable', fears of meat shortages for the urbanised factory work-force following empirical but unsubstantiated estimates of the production losses contingent upon FMD, leading to calls from the (Capitalist) Captains of Industry, in common cause with the Pedigree Breeders, for State controls.

The severe disruption occasioned by Movement and Marketing Restrictions created the reality that FMD was a major nuisance of deep economic significance, increasingly dreaded by the Agricultural community, so that by the 1880's farmer acceptance of the need for State interventions to control and prevent FMD, (including the prohibition of livestock imports and the isolation of infected and contact animals, as well as market cancellations and Movement Restrictions) was widespread. Due to a combination of whichever factors, the period from 1884 until the end of the 19th Century was very little troubled by FMD.

Thus the introduction of the 1892 Act (Northumberland et al.1968), enabling local authorities to slaughter for FMD, met little resistance, coming as it did at a time of minimal FMD occurrence, so that although slaughter was "only implemented once in the next twenty years", (Woods [2001] who cites 1884 as the date of this Legislation), the framework of our Present 21st century policy was established. The introduction of import controls by the UK led many other FMD-free countries to follow suit, especially the United States of America (USA) and Australia. This affected the British exporters, almost exclusively the Pedigree Breeders who had begun the process, who's stock now had to demonstrate the same freedom from infection they had required of third parties, and yet ironically, whose stock could often be spared the slaughter, not least as the compensatory purchase price was so great (Woods 2001:4). This group, whether acting out of altruism, self-interest, or a combination of the two, therefore prevailed upon the Ministry of Agriculture to persuade commercial farmers that a slaughter policy was for the good of all.

In 1898, Loeffler and Frosch had discovered that FMD is caused by a filterable agent, news of which landmark discovery had presumably reached the UK by 1908, when foreign hay and straw were first banned from importation after an outbreak was linked to the same - demonstrating an increased understanding of the contagious nature of the virus, which it was previously thought could only be passed on by infected creatures.

From the turn of the century until 1920 discriminate slaughter rapidly eliminated new incursions of FMD, arguably justifying the original rationale behind slaughter. However, in 1922, the disease spread through an infected market (following delayed notification) and became widespread. This

" was an entirely new context for the application of slaughter and certainly not one which the original framers of the slaughter policy had foreseen or intended" (Woods 2001:4),

and, following a particularly severe and long- lasting outbreak, triggered a revolt by farmers against the cull, (Woods 2001, citing information drawn from the 'Cheshire Observer' and 'Crewe Chronicle', newspapers, December 1923 - February 1924, located in the Cheshire Public Records Office [P.R.O.]), so much so that in some specific instances farmers were permitted to isolate rather than slaughter infected stock. The 2nd Duke of Westminster's stock at Eaton Hall, Cheshire, (November 1923), were a case in point. The surrounding stock having been mostly slaughtered, the Duke, who opposed the slaughter policy, opted, (at his own expense and at risk of forfeiting compensation should slaughter become necessary), to treat his stock, primarily with saline solution, Stockholm tar, copious fresh bedding, 24 hour a day stockmanship, warm mash and soft hay; mortalities were no worse than an average year, milk yield returned to normal the following lactation, and all classes of stock bred as normal the following year. At the Royal Show of 1924 several previously infected dairy cows won prizes, a draft sale at Eaton that same July saw 77 lots of cattle achieve excellent prices, and Galloway steers who had been treated also made excellent carcasses (Whitlock 1969).

 

Subsequently, the 1920's saw an increasing panoply of legislation to help prevent either the incursion or onward spread of infection -- the Prohibition of Continental meat imports , (following the realisation that carcasses and meat could act as a vector for infection), stringent controls of Argentinian imports by means of the 'Bledisloe arrangements', (determining stock health management ante-, post- and during slaughter), and the imposition of the requirement to boil pig-swill (Woods 2001: 9, citing 'FMD' (1965) in Anon, Animal Health, a Centenary).

"At the same time, human movement in 1922-24 was linked to disease spread between farms" (Woods: 9, citing the Report of the 1924 Pretyman committee on FMD), raising awareness of the standards required for inter-farm hygiene or 'bio-security' as we know it now. Furthermore, the 'Animal Virus Research Institute' at Pirbright, Surrey, (now the Institute for Animal Health [I.A.H]) was established in 1924, to pursue research into all animal viruses, but especially the FMD virus and vaccines, although it has often been noted that the restriction of this work to this sole Institute has "made it impossible for independent researchers to investigate the disease and formulate alternative measures for its control" -- preventatives, treatments or cures (Woods: 10, citing the FMD Research Committee minutes, 1924-39, which 'reveal the repeated rejection of external requests to investigate FMD').

 

Throughout the 1920's and ongoing into the 1930's researchers investigated the role of wildlife, including birds, in epidemiological spread. Considerable sums of public money were put into research to find vaccines against FMD, and while representatives of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (M.A.F.F.) publicly "expressed hopes that a vaccine would emerge from Pirbright . in private the Chief Veterinary Officer stated that vaccines would find no application on British soil" (Woods 2001:10, citing CVO letter [7/1/24] to W. Leishman [Major General, Army Medical Services] PRO file MAF 35/217).

The feeling was that vaccines were a good second-best, suitable for use on the Continent due to their 'inferior' health status, where a slaughter policy was not financially feasible; additionally, assisting Continental neighbours and third parties to reduce their circulating viral load would help in reducing imported virus.

This position de-prioritised vaccine research in the UK, which only received a boost pre-World War 2, when both the real threat of FMD as a bio-terrorist weapon and the realisation that potential food shortages would contra-indicate slaughter, injected urgency to the task (Northumberland Report 1968 Pt 1: 72). Consumption of apparently healthy condemned stock had ceased in 1927, resumed during the war, but was subsequently condemned by the Gower Committee Report of 1954, which categorically linked such to onward transmission of the disease.

 

1951 saw a severe outbreak and agricultural expectations that after thirty years of public finance, the work of the Pirbright team would have yielded a usable vaccine, a sentiment to be repeated, and meet the same response, fifty years later, when similar expectations were similarly dashed on the basis that for technical reasons vaccines were not suitable for use on UK soil.

The major epidemic of 1967-8, however, saw MAFF preparing to relinquish their anti-vaccination stance. 500 vets were identified willing to implement a plan to ring vaccinate; monovalent 'O 1' vaccine was acquired and the plan assumed that "full scale vaccination could be started within four days of a decision being taken to vaccinate and that about two million animals could have been vaccinated in ten days" (Northumberland Report 1968 Pt 1: 72-3). In the event, the plan was shelved as the disease waned immediately prior to implementation.

In 1968, research from Scandinavia suggesting the role of the wind in spreading FMD was accepted, paving the way for the input of Meteorological data in epidemiological modelling.

A small incursion of FMD occurred in Scotland in 1974, efficiently closed out.

1981 saw the 'famous' incident where the modellers' prediction that the prevailing wind would blow FMD across from Northern France to the Isle of Wight was borne out, which successful epidemiology enabled veterinary teams to await and 'ambush' the virus as it arrived, limiting damage done - although recent observations that the true vector may have been yachtsmen' s' feet is now hard to investigate, (but relevant in the context of the empirical nature of Modellers data).

This outbreak also saw the genetic determination of origin of the strain (by Pirbright WRL) as being the 'O Lausanne 1965' strain used in the preparation of vaccines- much to Continental embarrassment, as this pointed to either a laboratory escape or an improperly inactivated or contaminated vaccine as the source (King et al, 1981: 479-80).

In 1991, the EU ceased prophylactic vaccination and adopted the UK (FMD-free without vaccination) position.

 

 

 

 

Table 2. Significant Dates of FMD outbreaks in the UK.

 

1839 -- First outbreak, thought to be from infected imported animals.

FMD then more or less endemic for remainder of the 19th Century, although 1884 --1900 were remarkably untroubled by FMD and then, though not endemic, occurring on at least one occasion most years in the 20th Century, with the exceptions of 1917, 1963 and 1964, until 1969.

  • 1900 --1920's. Discriminate slaughter of infected stock rapidly eliminated new invasions of FMD.

  • 1917 No FMD in the UK.

  • 1922-4 Disease spread through an infected market, following delayed notification, leading to widespread FMD and a particularly severe and long-lasting outbreak, which triggered a revolt by farmers against the cull in Cheshire.
  • 1922-5 Isolation of affected herds occasionally practised as an alternative to slaughter, ie the Duke of Westminster's stock at Eaton Hall.
  • [1928 'Bledisloe arrangements' for veterinary inspection and sanitary criteria for imported meat from countries with endemic FMD implemented. (Northumberland Report 1968 Pt 1, Appendix 6: 128)]

  • 1951-2 Disease elimination took almost a year.
  • 1963-4 No FMD in the UK.
  • I966 An outbreak in Northumberland, serotyped O1 , began with atypical lesions and negative laboratory tests, followed by clinical symptoms two days later (Northumberland Report 1968 Pt 1: 40 [see also p.54]).

  • 1967- 1968 Serotype O 1. Worst epidemic of FMD prior to 2001; 211,825 cattle, 108,345 sheep, 113,766 pigs and 51 goats slaughtered between 25/10/67 and 4/6/68 (Northumberland Report 1968 Pt 1:60).

  • [1968 Bledisloe arrangements reworked to require only thoroughly vaccinated animals to be imported. (Northumberland Report 1968 Pt1, Appendix 7: 129).]

  • 1974 Scotland.

  • 1981 Isle of Wight.

  • 2000 UK participates in quadrilateral vaccine trials under secret (non-disclosure) terms (North 2001).

    Health and Safety Executive (H.S.E.) papers warn MAFF that manipulating FMD virus under Biosecurity (BL) level 2, though 'mainly safe', is not secure, (but also listed were trials under BL 3 and 4), and these HSE papers "describe the DNA insert as of 'human origin', and expressed concern should a leak of experimental material occur, as it could be 'environmentally persistent'"(Bird 2001:6) and that the consequences of an escape from such would be upon their heads.

    Sept. FMD allegedly discovered in an abattoir. Journalist covering the story relocated and will not speak on the topic.

    Apocryphal unvalidated accounts of vets apparently seeking for FMD in stock, Powys, autumn.

    Farmers and vets in Cumbria reporting suspicions of FMD, negative on laboratory analysis. Such stock, from Dumfries and Galloway, sent for slaughter at State Veterinary Service (S.V.S.) recommendation to Cheales Abattoir, Essex, November (Snape, W., personal communication).

    December- FMD present in Cumbria, all evidence buried (apocryphal police account - the source was unable to speak on the record having signed the Official Secrets Act).

    Apocryphal reports of travellers from UK to Antipodes being especially thoroughly searched because 'we have got FMD over here, whether our Government is telling us or not'.

  • 2001 Antibodies to FMD found in UK sheep imported into France.

    Clinical symptoms discovered at Cheales' abattoir, Essex.

     

     

     

     

     

    International Trade regulations.

     

    The incursion of Rinderpest into Europe and the Belgian epizootic of 1920 had led to the establishment by 28 Member Countries of the Organisation International des Epizooties in Paris in 1924 to act as an 'honest broker' to themselves and the world community, as a focal point for all international communications regarding animal health breakdowns, facilitating monitoring and advance notification of forthcoming expected incursions and to provide a body determining the health status or otherwise of the stock of Member nations (or parts thereof). FMD is one of the most significant and voluminous of these tasks.

    The legal framework as presently constructed is formalised under the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Agreement 1994 on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (the 'SPS agreement'), under which Member Countries "have the right to adopt protective sanitary measures to the extent necessary to protect human and animal health, provided that the measures are based on scientific principles and are not maintained without sufficient continuing scientific evidence" (Royal Society 2002: 39) - a stipulation designed to prevent countries practising 'protectionist' embargoes behind supposed phyto-sanitary criteria. The SPS Agreement "recognises the OIE as the body responsible for the development and promotion of standards, guidelines and recommendations for animal health and zoonoses"(Royal Society 2002:39).

    The OIE (whose primary mission is "to guarantee the transparency of animal health status world-wide"), performs a multiplicity of functions, dealing with 95 diseases categorised as either List A (the most serious) or List B , publishing and updating the 'Manual of Standards for Diagnostic Tests and Vaccines' from which the international normative standards are derived, listing the global reference laboratories, arranging regular meetings of its three technical commissions, lending support to the organisation of International Conferences, and publishing Proceedings and Scientific and Technical Reviews such as that quoted in the previous Chapter. However, despite the significance of its role, the OIE is essentially a small and poorly funded Secretariat, dependent on its "reference laboratories and other experts to provide the technical input" and "on the reference laboratories for the development of reagents and standards, and for the validation of standards and assays" (Royal Society 2002:39), and with scarce funds of their own are neither able to commission research nor command completion deadlines. The Royal Society suggested that the OIE should "evolve from a part-time reactive organisation reliant on goodwill, to a strong proactive international organisation" (p.39).  

    'Disease-free status'.

     

    In order to trade freely in livestock or livestock products a country has to be able to demonstrate that it is free of certain diseases. The criteria for such vary, firstly from disease to disease, but also depending on whether the country concerned is a Member which has temporarily lost its Disease-free status (DFS), or an new applicant wishing to join the 'club', for whom the 'probationary' procedures are lengthier although not more onerous. Three essential criteria remain common to all - a country "wishing to obtain recognition of freedom from disease must demonstrate that it has:

    a reliable disease surveillance and reporting system,

    a reliable disease control and eradication programme, and

    a state veterinary service with independence and integrity"(Royal Society 2002:40).

    When Foot and Mouth disease was discovered in the UK in February 2001, the UK was classed as 'disease-free without vaccination', the highest health status, giving UK products maximum marketing opportunities (subject to the B.S.E. [Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy] and C.S.F. [Classical Swine Fever] market losses), and gained after a minimum of twelve months free of the disease (or since vaccination was last used- not relevant in the case of the UK where vaccination against FMD has never been used).

    OIE gradations of FMD-free product descend from the above through 'FMD-free with vaccination', 'FMD-free zone without vaccination', to 'FMD-free zone with vaccination'. Countries where FMD is endemic may still participate in OIE activities and may sell their products on the open market to any willing purchaser, but that purchasing country will have the opportunity to inform themselves of the exporting nations' disease status.

    Disease-free status (DFS) when lost, can be regained after meeting the relevant criteria. For a Country or Zone free of disease without vaccination, (such as the UK); this, in 2001, meant 3 months after the last case (where 'stamping out' and serological surveillance are applied), or three months after the slaughter of the last vaccinated animal (where stamping out, serological surveillance and emergency vaccination have been utilized).

    Different criteria apply to countries classed as 'FMD --free with vaccination', which can regain their DFS 12 months after the last case where stamping out and serological surveillance are applied, or 24 months after the last case if serological surveillance is used without stamping out.

    Following the European experience in 2001, in which the UK, at great expense in blood and money, refused to vaccinate, the necessity to slaughter vaccinated stock was reappraised. The French had been two outbreaks away from vaccinating , the Germans, Italians, Irish, and probably others were obliged to slaughter stock and suffer the usual costs of a movement standstill. The Netherlands did vaccinate, initially 'Protectively' [to live], but then slaughtered as the outbreak had been so effectively controlled and the economies of loss of DFS were tallied. Many Dutch farmers over a very wide area had volunteered their stock for protection, and were betrayed when their Government changed the policy - a point that needs making as the Dutch experience has often been cited, with flagrant disregard for the science, as a demonstration that vaccination involves killing more animals per Infected Premise than slaughter!

    Following these events, pressure from many quarters to establish mechanisms that enable healthy vaccinated stock and their products to resume a normal or near normal life and re-enter the Food Chain resulted in new criteria becoming recognized by the OIE from 28th May 2002 onwards; that is, provided that the stock are vaccinated with a suitably refined and recognized vaccine that permits post-emergency serological differentiation by analysis of the Non-Structural Proteins (NSP's), (so that, at least on a herd or flock basis, the antibodies in stock can be ascribed as coming from either inoculation or infection), then those stock presenting with antibodies not displaying NSP's can live, and Disease and Infection -free Status (DIFS) be regained some six months after the last case or the last vaccination (whichever latest), provided that the serological surveillance has satisfactorily demonstrated the absence of infection in the remaining vaccinated population (and assuming all infected stock slaughtered).

    These NSP-tests have been in use in South America since the mid 1980's, but none were validated for use internationally. Recent developments both in Europe and the USA have brought such tests to the point where the OIE are prepared to recognize the category, although definitive work on ascertaining accuracy and cross-compliance between different products and laboratory's is not yet complete. The present situation is thus one of constructive limbo; countries may use the combination of vaccine and NSP testing if they wish, but others may choose not to purchase their products, much as the Japanese, having experienced an atypical and asymptomatic 'O' strain of FMD very akin to that which affected the UK have not resumed porcine purchasing from the UK to date (19/3/03).

    UK Trade Position in 2001

     

    When the original Bledisloe arrangements were put in place in 1928, they secured not only the considerable British investment in the processing facilities and infra-structure of Argentina, but the one third of total UK meat consumption derived from South America (Woods, private correspondence).

    By the time of the 1967 outbreak, the contribution of South American meat to the UK total had reduced in significance to10% (Northumberland Report Part 1 1968: 79), although that total fluctuated throughout the year, and the preponderance of South American meat in individual outlets varied; primarily, Smithfield market in London took the bulk, ensuring consumption as far removed from most ruminants as possible. In neither instance was the UK a net exporter of meat.

    During the 2001 epizootic, we were repeatedly told that the slaughter was essential (and vaccination unacceptable) to protect our very valuable livestock and livestock products' export markets, generally held to be in the region of approximately £500 million in value. However, a considerable proportion of this trade was in live sheep exports for slaughter, to which many people objected on welfare grounds per se. Furthermore, in an article entitled "The Great Food Swap", Dr. Caroline Lucas, MEP, (Member of the European Parliament) described how closely many totals of UK exports and imports matched, immediately prior to 2001; indeed Mick Sloyan of the Meat and Livestock Commission (M.L.C.) stated that the sum total of differences came down to preferences of national taste -- that is to say, we import Danish bacon, and export pork bellies (plus sundry parts) to Germany for sausage production.

    In a debate in the House of Lords on the 25th June 2002, Lord Pearson of Rannoch stated :-

     

    "We now know from the National Audit Office that these policies

    cost the British taxpayer £8,000 million in last year's foot and mouth

    epidemic £3,000 million to our farming industry and £5,000 million

    to our tourism industry. Are our meat exports so valuable

    Not according to Written Answers that I received from the Minister on 24th April and 25th March this year. They reveal that the total value of our exports of meat and meat preparations, including poultry meat, amounted to a mere £615 million in 2000, which was before the foot and mouth epidemic started. The Minister also revealed that the value of our corresponding meat imports for 2000 was almost four times greater than our exports, at £2,417 million. The answer that the Government refused to vaccinate and embarked on such costly and cruel mass slaughter to protect our meat export trade does not appear to stand up. I repeat, in a normal year we spend roughly four times as much on meat imports as we get from our meat exports about £1,800 million more. Rather than going through all that misery and expense again, would it matter if we vaccinated, even at the cost of some of our exports, which we could presumably eat here and import correspondingly less " (Hansard 25th June 2002: Column 1281).

    It was in this context that a Meat and Livestock Commissioner stated that the real reason we could not vaccinate had less to do with exports and more to do with protecting UK producers from a flood of cheaper vaccinated imports (M.L.C. Commissioner Helen Browning, OBE, speaking at Elm Farm Research Centre's "In Search of the Truth" Conference, Queen Elizabeth 2nd Conference Centre, Westminster, 13/6/01), a point implicitly recognised by Dr. Anderson when he observed that "failure to control FMD would substantially increase the costs of UK livestock production; possibly by such an amount as to make a large proportion of current livestock production unviable". It is most improbable that Dr Anderson is here referring to a situation of unmoderated endemicity; one can therefore infer that he is speaking of the financial consequences of a protracted or prophylactic vaccination usage.

    Such would help explain the bizarre and discreditable dis- and misinformation campaign practised by the anti-vaccination lobby. Concerns arose, reliably attributed to the NFU (letter from Prof. Fenton Robb, personal communication), that consumers might reject vaccinated products, or require such to be labelled, thereby creating a two-tier market. This was a baseless concern, in flat contradiction to the accumulated evidence of decades, of billions of instances of safe consumption of the same, (not to mention the assurances of the Food Standards Agency, Consumers' Association and the Soil Association), which resulted in farmers, supposedly 'led' by the NFU (like lambs to slaughter), rejecting vaccines at precisely the time when British consumers were consuming the very same from abroad (unmarked) -- with no mention of the 32 other vaccines in use in UK agriculture at the time. Indeed, NFU policy appeared to be at the time to do or say anything to thwart a vaccination policy -- which I have since had confirmed that it was.

     

    cONCLUSION  

    Hopefully I have demonstrated that the cull policy for FMD was rooted in the circumstances of the 19th century, which, though of relevance and informing our current position, should now nevertheless be seen in its wider historical context, coming as it did, at a time when both needs and capabilities were vastly different -- which point should be borne in mind when preparing 21st century Contingency Plans.

    In the Chapter following, I will examine the Contingency Plans extant on February 19th 2001, both European Union (E.U.) and UK, then in Chapter 5 discuss their strengths and weaknesses, both with an attempt to take an early view of how History will view them, and to examine whether obvious scope for improvements are thrown into sharp relief.

     

     

     

    Chapter 4. Contingency Plans, as obtaining on 19th February 2001.

     

    The previous Chapter recounted the history and evolution of the present policies and explained the context and development of the WTO-recognised OIE-determined 'normative standards' for trading in livestock and animal products.

    In this chapter I will delineate the European Union and the UK Contingency Plans, to facilitate comparison and assess compatibility, attempt to ascertain which model prevails in the event of a discrepancy, examine the consequences if the two fail to mesh and consider the state of readiness of the UK's Contingency Planning for the predicted and predictable events of 2001.

     

    The European Union Contingency Plans.

     

    Jon Dobson's' predicament (see following section) is one this researcher has similarly encountered in attempting to locate archived EU documention, even of relatively recent origin, whether because such pre-date present electronic information systems and have not been transferred, been superceded and renamed, or, confusingly, attributed web addresses which lead to topic- related but different sites. Post 2001, a blinding plethora of 'Contingency Plan ' documentation is everywhere to be found. Ascertaining the situation pre -- 2001, however, is more difficult, as is also the case for the UK.

    As a consequence, not having travelled to Brussels to obtain personal access, I have not been able to reconstruct the entire development of the EC Contingency Plans from original documents and so am heavily dependent upon secondary sources, in particular the somewhat elided page 29 of the Lessons Learned Inquiry (for the following few paragraphs especially), and the researched writings of Dr. Richard North, himself a Policy Researcher in Brussels.

    The basis for all EC animal disease Contingency Plans is 'Directive 85/511/EEC', in force from 18th November 1985, (at which time many countries in Europe were still practising prophylactic vaccination), which stated that overall control of FMD was handed to Brussels, and required "compulsory notification of suspicion of FMD in Member States,"(Anderson 2002:29) and that the holding concerned must be immediately placed under official surveillance. All animals of susceptible species must be slaughtered under official supervision, and their carcasses destroyed in such a way as to prevent the spread of FMD.

    The Directive then spelled out that "meat, milk and milk products from the infected premises must be traced and destroyed, as must all substances likely to carry the virus. All farm buildings and equipment must be cleansed and disinfected".

    On confirmation of infection, a 'Protection Zone' of at least 3 kilometres radius and a Surveillance Zone of at least 10 kilometres radius must be established around the Infected Premises. "Fifteen days after completing preliminary cleansing and disinfection of the infected Holding, the rules in the Protection Zone are relaxed and the rules in the Surveillance Zone apply instead. The Surveillance Zone restrictions may not be lifted for at least 30 days after cleansing and disinfection of the infected holding"(Anderson 2002:29). The Directive required that an inquiry be promptly instituted to establish how long the virus had been present, where it came from, how it spread and approved certain specified disinfectants.

    "In March 1991, the European Commission published 'Recommendations or Guidelines for Contingency Plans against Foot and Mouth Disease DGVI/1324/9'. One of these recommendations was that each Member State should ensure that it had, immediately available, sufficient trained staff to deal with, at any one time, up to 10 cases and to maintain surveillance of premises in the 3km protection zone required around each"(Anderson 2002:32). This recommendation, based upon the scale of outbreaks in preceding years in Europe (when prophylactic vaccination was still protecting many stock) was to endure, and remained the guiding principle up to and including February 20th 2001.

    In a Memorandum entitled 'FMD Contingency Planning', Dr. North summarised the legal base upon which EC Member States were more recently obliged, by virtue of Article 5 of Directive 90/423/EEC, to construct their national Contingency Plans (C.P.'s), the criteria for which are set out in Commission Decision 91/42/EEC, "which must be applied" (North 2002:2). (This was when the E.U. abolished prophylactic vaccination). Additionally, the Commission was 'empowered to adopt' certain 'recommendations', setting out explanatory notes on the criteria, which in 1993 were published.

    These 'Recommendations', (published on the 26/2/93 and referred to as Appendix 6 (1)) delineated 12 criteria which countries should meet. These required that each Member State should provide the following:- (abbreviated)

    1. Sufficient legal powers to rapidly and successfully conclude a campaign.
    2. Financial provision for access to emergency funds.
    3. Establishment of a permanent national Disease Control Centre, in proximity to the office of the CVO and maintained in a permanent state of readiness, equipped to act as a command and control (communication and data recall) centre.
    4. Establishment of local Disease Control Centres.
    5. Expert teams, experienced in dealing with FMD, to visit initial outbreaks, confirm diagnoses or otherwise, take samples for confirmation or serotyping, investigate, report, and advise on site on immediate biosecurity requirements.
    6. Ensure sufficient trained and experienced personnel are pre-identified and can be readily contacted, both at National and Local level.
    7. Ensure sufficient and appropriate equipment and facilities are immediately available.
    8. Ensure that comprehensive instruction manuals for dealing with FMD are prepared.
    9. Ensure that the services of an FMD diagnostic facility in country or abroad are at all times available (no problem for the UK).
    10. Contingency Plans that ensure that emergency vaccination can be successfully administered, from rapidly available inactivated antigen, through provision of 'cold chain' facilities, needles and trained staff.
    11. All veterinary and support staff should receive regular 'refresher' training, including video updates on diagnosis, procedures at IP's, at Local and National Disease Control Centres, rehearse tracing procedures, record keeping, notification and publicity procedures.
    12. Disease awareness and publicity campaigns for farmers, vets and the agricultural community at large.
    'Appendix 6 ( 1 )' then continues with an Annex, 'Emergency actions in non-vaccinating countries', which rehearses the expected 'Notification', 'Investigation', 'Confirmation', 'Infected Premises procedures' etc. (ie fundamentally as above, and as practised in the UK for many years), and includes a section explaining the objectives, mechanism and criteria for strategic 'ring' vaccination "which" (latter) "should include the following":

    (An analysis of) "species of animals and their densities in the area.

    Predicted risk of airborne virus spread.

    Geography and other features of the area and practicability of delineating a strategic vaccination zone.

    An assessment of the economic consequences for trade.

    The presence of valuable breeding stock in the area at risk.

    Environmental and welfare considerations and public opinion"(Appendix 6( 1 ) (1993) - Annex 1).

     

    By July 1993 all fifteen Member States had submitted their Contingency Plans, which were approved on the 23rd July 1993 (Commission Decision 93/455/EEC), subject to a Veterinary Inspection and evaluation, arrangements for which were, extremely slowly, put in hand. Two further documents followed, VI/5211/95- 'Contingency Plans for Epidemic Diseases', and VI/6319/98: 'Guidelines for FMD Contingency Plans in non-vaccinating countries', now redesignated XXIV/2655/1999 - which latter reference presently leads (7/3/03) to an interesting but unsought Report of a recent EC Veterinary Inspection to Greece (2002).

    In 1999 the EC began the process of evaluating the Member States Contingency Plans for action against an incursion of FMD -- presumably galvanised into action by experts who were aware of the global advances of Pan Asia 'O'. In March of that year the EC updated their detailed guidelines on FMD contingency plans, adopting the Report of the Scientific Committee on Animal Health and Animal Welfare (S.C.A.H.A.W.) titled "Strategy for Emergency Vaccination against Foot and Mouth Disease" (S.C.A.H.A.W.1999) on March 10th. This document was in response to a request to a working group to establish the 'criteria leading to a decision to implement emergency vaccination against FMD, guidelines for such a proposal' (and for) 'the subsequent movement of animal and animal products '. In section 3, 'The rationale for the possible use of emergency vaccination', the rationale for such included :-

    1) " Fear that after the introduction of FMDV into a free region, it may spread out of control".

    2) The availability of high potency vaccines from which "immunity can be induced within a few days in both cattle and pigs" (thus confirming efficacy and commending use of oil-adjuvanted high- payload vaccines).

    3) The "availability of new tests that will differentiate between infected and vaccinated animals" (in their recommendations this Committee state that non-structural proteins [e.g. 3ABC] should not be present in vaccines, to facilitate this test).

    4) " Responding to public opposition to the implementation of total stamping out and the demand for an alternative approach or the impossibility of carcass disposal because of concerns about water (carcass burial) or urban air pollution by smoke of carcass burning."

    On page 12 (section 5) of this Report, the Committee discussed criteria and factors affecting the decision to implement emergency vaccination, the primary function and task of this working group. They begin the "rapid and objective assessment of the determining parameters is crucial to the decision to commence a vaccination programme", and continue, "If an analysis of parameters gives a result which supports a programme of protective emergency vaccination then the programme must be implemented without delay". A Table then follows, reproduced below, collating 10 criteria 'for' and 'against' emergency vaccination.

     

    TABLE 3. List of Criteria in Decision-making related to 'protective' Emergency Vaccination.
     

    1. Criteria
     

  • For vaccination
  •  

  • Against vaccination
    1. Population density of susceptible animals

       

      High

       

      Low

       

      Clinically affected species

       

      Significant number of pigs involved

       

      Predominantly ruminants

      Movement of potentially infected animals or products out of the protection zone

       

       

      Evidence

       

       

      No evidence

      Predicted airborne spread of virus from infected premises

       

      High

       

      Low or absent

       

      Suitable vaccine

       

      Available

       

      Not available

      Origin of outbreaks (traceability)

       

      Unknown

       

      Known

      Incidence slope of outbreaks

       

      Rising rapidly

       

      Shallow or slow rise

       

      Distribution of outbreaks

       

      Widespread

       

      Restricted

      Public reaction to total stamping out policy

       

      Strong

       

      Weak

      Acceptance of regionalisation after vaccination

       

      Yes

       

      No

       

      Further on, with regard to post-vaccination NSP-tests, the Committee report that "In spite of the uncertainties with regard to vaccinated herds, the Committee is of the opinion that the application of NSP-tests allows for an earlier lifting of the restrictions on the movement of vaccinated animals" -- as came to be endorsed by the OIE in May 2002. In addition the Committee "recognised that the NSP-tests are not yet validated for use in pigs. Until this is done . use tests for virus isolation in this species".

      However, Dr Soren Alexanderson dissented from the remainder of the Committee forming a minority opinion, which appears to have weakened the collective 'Concluding Recommendations' to little more than a mutually agreeable best-practice 'wish list' . Scientifically the Committee pointed to a lot of 'work in progress'; for policy-makers, however, categorical guidelines are absent, other than the recommendation that "National Contingency Plans should consider the possibility of emergency vaccination and provide an estimate of all logistical requirements such as the number of vaccination teams required in different areas, in order to complete the task as rapidly as possible" (S.C.A.H.A.W.1999: 17-18).

      In the section following I shall attempt to examine whether these guidelines had been acted upon in the UK, as indeed were the EC on the occasion of their proposed Food and Veterinary Office (FVO) Inspection, belatedly scheduled (to confirm the 1993 Contingency Plan arrangements) for 2001, when, alas, the epidemic intervened.

       

       

      UK Contingency Plans.

       

      In a submission invited by DEFRA commenting on their 'Interim Contingency Plans', FMD Forum Research Director Jon Dobson observed that he could not

      " find any publication in the public domain that relates to the VIPER

      document that is referred to in Section 14. Without details of the VIPER

      document, it is impossible to give an opinion on whether the procedures laid

      out within the document are sound" (Dobson 2003).

       

      Jon Dobson's' difficulty in obtaining details of MAFF's Contingency Plans' for FMD prior to February 19th 2001 has been a common finding - I have to date had no further success with this search, and am therefore obliged to depend upon apocryphal or secondary sources of information.

      Fortunately, the Chair of the Lessons Learned Inquiry was able to demand access to the relevant literature, and so we know from him what the Contingency Plans were. According to Dr. Anderson

      "the contingency plans within MAFF consisted of three main parts: the plans submitted to the EU in accordance with Article 5 of Directive 90/423; the instructions issued to the State Veterinary Service for dealing with an FMD outbreak and contained in Chapter 3 of the State Veterinary Service's Veterinary Instructions, Procedures, and Emergency Routines" (referred to in the Lessons Learned Report as the Veterinary Instructions, elsewhere generally as VIPER); "and the local Divisional plans drawn up by each Animal Health Divisional Office".

       

      The Committee of Public Accounts (P.A.C.) recently published (March 2003) their Conclusions and Recommendations after examining the National Audit Office account of the 2001 outbreak, having paid particular regard to three issues -- Contingency Plans, the handling of the outbreak and control of the costs of the outbreak; their analysis of the Contingency Plans is of interest here.

      The Select Committee confirm that MAFF had indeed "prepared Contingency Plans" which "comprised a national contingency plan for Great Britain; local contingency plans; and standing field instructions for veterinary and other staff" these latter being the 'VIPER' documents referred to above. The Report continues "The plans were approved by the European Commission in 1993 and had been updated in various ways since then."

      The 'updating' referred to was probably the consequence of the 'Drummond Report', an internal State Veterinary Service inquiry carried out in 1999 into the state of national readiness to cope with a major exotic disease incursion. This group, under the Chairmanship of the Assistant Director, Veterinary Field Service (North Region), Richard Drummond, "found considerable variations in the State Veterinary Service's readiness to deal with outbreaks of diseases, including foot and mouth", and "expressed concern that a rapid spread of foot and mouth disease could quickly overwhelm the State Veterinary Services' resources, particularly if a number of outbreaks occurred at the same time" (Select Committee on Public Accounts [PAC] 2003:3).

      As it transpired, by 2001 detailed instructions for the deployment of emergency vaccination had been drawn up -- "but these had not been distributed to local offices" (PAC 2003: 7). The Select Committee observed that MAFF had proceeded with 27 of Drummond's 34 recommendations when Classical Swine Fever (CSF) infected the pig population in East Anglia, interrupting the full implementation -- although providing both a dress rehearsal and a stark wake --up call for FMD (CSF also being a swill [or semen] spread disease).

      Crucially, and "in line with European Commission guidance, the Department's plans were based on the assumption that there would not be more than ten infected premises at any one time" (PAC 2003:6); yet, in oral evidence to the Public Accounts Committee, Chief Veterinary Officer Jim Scudamore agreed that the "worst case scenario was in 1967", which he held to be "unique," because the importation of Argentinian lamb had "seeded into about 26 farms at once" (Select Committee Minutes of Evidence 3/7/02).

      With hindsight, we now know that at least 57 premises were infected by the time the first case was diagnosed; but "the plans did not consider any other scenarios, such as a worst case scenario or one based on the last big outbreak in 1967-68" (PAC 2003:1), nor that a farmer (or vet) might fail either to detect or report FMD, nor that disease might spread 'silently' through sheep.

      Conclusion.

      Giving evidence to the House of Commons 'Environment Food and Rural Affairs' Select Committee, Dr Anderson, Chair of the Lessons Learned Inquiry, stated that "contingency planning as a whole, and all of the things which support contingency planning, was not a priority in MAFF prior to this" (Select Committee on Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Minutes of Evidence of 23/7/02). This, and other failings, along with the strengths of the plans, will be discussed in the next chapter.

       

       

       

       

      Chapter 5. Strengths and weaknesses of the Contingency plans.

       

      In the previous chapter I delineated the Contingency Plans against Foot and Mouth Disease incursion as drawn up by the EU and the UK, with the intention of facilitating comparison, permitting easy vision of any incompatibilities and to allow any obvious omissions or weaknesses to become apparent.

      In this Chapter I intend to analyse and discuss the strengths and weaknesses of both sets of Contingency Plans, both for dealing with Foot and Mouth disease and for other exotic disease incursions. However, it must be appreciated that the Contingency Plans, at least as presently constructed, deal only with 'operational' matters and not issues of 'policy'; therefore questions such as "why are some costs externalised from consideration of policy" (Dr. Ruth Watkins, private correspondence), will not be considered here

       

      Strengths

      The decision by the EU, driven by the UK , to abolish Prophylactic vaccination and adopt 'sanitary measures', (that is, the slaughter of infected and 'dangerous contact' animals, combined with Movement restrictions and disinfection), is estimated to have saved the EC in excess of 800 million ECU's (at 1996 prices) in the first 5 years alone (Institute for Animal Health [I.A.H.] 2002:14). Savings were made in direct costs (vaccines), labour (vaccinating), and stock values enhanced (or consumer purchasing economies effected) by easier trans-EU marketing when the unified European market came into operation on January 1st 1993. Tellingly,

      " Before the policy was implemented it was stated that the money saved by ceasing vaccination would be used to strengthen the periphery of the community against the risk of future virus entry, but that did not happen. On the contrary the borders of the community, especially on the east and southeast are much more porous" (I.A.H.2002: 14) (my emphasis).

      Nevertheless, from a UK perspective, apart from two brief episodes, (1974 and 1981), the UK had benefited both from freedom from FMD and the trading benefits arising thereby, for a period of 32 years. "The non-vaccination policy has saved the" (total EC) "farming community more than one Billion Euros so far, permitted free intra-Community trade and enhanced competitiveness of the Community on the world market" (Delegation of the E.C. in Canada 2001) explained an EC apologia in Canada shortly after the confirmation of the 2001 outbreak.

      To what extent such can be attributed to effective import controls and rapid implementation of Contingency Plans whenever an alert is called , or to what degree pure luck, is impossible to ascertain, especially in the absence of examination of the epidemiological Reports from the (supposedly) 'false alarms'.

      More specifically, when tested in the field in 2001, Dr. Anderson observed that the Plans worked well in Dumfries and Galloway, where the Emergency Services had experienced the Lockerbie air disaster twelve years previously, and had learnt then the benefits of agreed, rehearsed, communicated and co-ordinated contingency planning. The County of Staffordshire was also well served by a Divisional Veterinary Manager (DVM) who had astutely rehearsed prior to the event, and was thus able to let local knowledge prevail over centralised instruction, to considerable and creditable effect. Furthermore, areas where the disease was limited in scale were reasonably well served, and returned to as near-normality as possible in a reasonable time; it was also noted how well many Staff from diverse locations 'blended and bonded' to overcome the epidemic, and MAFF/DEFRA had succeeded both in preventing recrudescence on restocking, and preventing the virus from establishing endemicity.

       

       

      Weaknesses inherent in the Contingency Plans of 19th February 2001.

       

      "If the objects of the policy since February this year were to eradicate the disease quickly, to restore our overseas markets quickly, to minimise damage to farm incomes and the wider rural economy, and to avoid animal suffering, we have failed spectacularly. What is more, we have generated a bitterness, and a resentment, in parts of our countryside in which rumour and disinformation about the origins and the handling of the crisis now flourish"-- Baroness Mallalieu in her opening address to the 2001 British Veterinary Association annual Congress (Anon.[13/10/01] Veterinary Record 149(15): 437)

      That there were weaknesses in the Contingency Plans is best confirmed by honest Government supporters such as the good Baroness (above), corroborated by Dr. Anderson, who, in the introductory section of the chapter on Contingency Plans in his Report from the Lessons Learned Inquiry informed us that the

      "...Government's Memorandum to our Inquiry stated that 'comprehensive contingency plans were in place'. We did not find this to be so" (Anderson 2002:32).

       

      Indeed, the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, in their evidence submitted to the 'Lessons Learned Inquiry', stated that "There appear to have been no national contingency plans". MAFF, they said, "seem not to have heeded the recommendations of the Northumberland Report, that in the absence of a meat import policy which would substantially reduce the risks of primary outbreaks occurring, the slaughter policy should be reinforced by a ring vaccination scheme, and that contingency plans for the application of ring vaccination should be kept in constant readiness" (Anon. [30/3/02] Veterinary Record 150(13): 393).

      Retrospective analysis has revealed a great many faults in the Contingency Plans -- at least a couple of dozen, all significant, some more so than others; 'ranking' in order of severity is neither easy or asked for, nor shall I attempt it. That said, the fact that the Contingency Plans did not automatically trigger a national livestock movement ban was of fundamental significance, for as a consequence the spread of the disease was greatly increased; Professor Woolhouse of Edinburgh University, and a member of the FMD Science Group, "observed in evidence to the House of Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee that:

      'If we had imposed a national movement ban on 20th February, three days earlier, our estimation is that the epidemic would have been between one third and one half that it actually was'" (Anderson 2002: 60).

      Given that the first case was found in an abattoir, with over 600 potential sources of infection, (Crispin and Binns 2002:2) located almost anywhere in the UK, that failure appears almost criminally negligent. Hindsight is not necessary to appreciate that the risk faced would be far greater than that had the first case been found on a farm -- by definition, the authorities knew that they did not know where the Index case lay. Therefore, by allowing normal movements to continue, they were allowing that (unknown) Index premise to operate as usual with the certainty that should that farmer move more stock, or contact other stock elsewhere, that that would lead to further dissemination. Crown immunity has protected MAFF from what a commercial enterprise might otherwise be expected to pay for contributory negligence.

      Furthermore, actually at the site of the first case (Cheale's Abattoir), the response was unbelievably slow. Following mutually agreed clinical diagnosis reached by midday on Monday the 19th of February by three vets, of either Swine Vesicular Disease [S.V.D.], or Foot and Mouth Disease, a sample was sent to Pirbright WRL for differential analysis and confirmation, and Pirbright were informed, (towards the end of the working day), of its impending arrival. Unfortunately, this notification was by e-mail (not telephone), and went unread until the next morning. Following a positive test result, MAFF requested a second confirmatory test. Then the pigs (all 106, not a select few) remained extant, so that Dr. Donaldson (of Pirbright WRL,) could observe clinical symptoms and take further samples himself.

      As a consequence, these pigs were alive, amplifying and exhaling a virus plume, considerably more than 30 hours after the original clinical diagnosis -- in an abattoir where slaughter could have been almost immediate! These delays were occasioned, accidentally or deliberately, by the very people best placed to understand the need for speed of action.

      MAFF's Contingency Plans had followed the EC recommended principle of carrying sufficient staff to cope with 10 simultaneously infected premises (including allowing for surveillance in the 3 kilometre Protection Zone [PZ] around each). In preparing Contingency Plans, the State Veterinary Service had envisaged two scenarios, both of 10 outbreaks each, one of greater severity than the other (due to having potentially more infected premises inside the PZ). As the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee concluded - "The Department had not considered any other scenarios because it felt that the risks of foot and mouth disease were low. This was a serious misjudgement" (Public Accounts Committee 2003:10).

      In the event, "at least 57 premises were infected before the initial diagnosis was made" (Anderson 2002:36). The scale of the outbreak was immediately far greater than any that Contingency Planning had envisaged; and yet, no alternative strategies existed. A 'worst-case' scenario had been considered but not defined, nor plans laid for if such occurred. The plans, in short, were insufficiently comprehensive, having failed to consider all 'contingencies'.

      In the more severe instance referred to above, it was "demonstrated that the UK would need 235 veterinary officers . MAFF estimated that in a more extensive outbreak, the number of staff needed might rise to 300" (Anderson 2002:36). However, the 'severe' instance was a fraction of the reality that actually occurred. Thus, the SVS staff and facilities were almost immediately overwhelmed. As Dr Anderson points out (page 36), during the course of the outbreak over 2500 Temporary Veterinary Inspectors (TVI's) were appointed and a further 700 foreign government vets and other secondees assisted on a temporary basis.

      In the course of 2002, it became known to the wider community (outside the SVS) that in early 1999, Richard Drummond, Assistant Director of the North Region Veterinary Field Service (ADVFS) , had completed a report commissioned six months previously, investigating "the current state of readiness of the SVS and other involved organisations to deal with outbreaks of exotic notifiable disease" (Drummond 1999:1).

      Working in conjunction with half a dozen colleagues, Drummond prepared a questionnaire, anonymity guaranteed, to probe and ascertain the real regional readiness. His report has a prescience akin to hindsight and pointed clearly to deficiencies in staff training, exotic disease awareness, the loss of expertise through natural wastage (aggravated by a high turnover of staff moving on to more lucrative posts elsewhere), combined with an ignorance, if not complacency, born out of many years free of exotic disease incursions. In his 'Management Summary', Drummond also pointed out that --

      "There needs to be a review of our work on infected premises, and of current policies on slaughter and disposal, to take account of developments with environmental protection legislation in particular.

      More use needs to be made of existing IT applications

      Relations with other bodies need to be reconsidered carefully so that our future plans reflect the real position and take developments into account. We also need to ensure that our operational methods are not subject to criticism if exposed by modern news gathering techniques".

      Drummond then made 30 recommendations based around five operational areas (training, Contingency Planning, Infected Premises work, use of IT and 'staffing and direction'), followed by four recommendations on 'Policy Matters', most significantly, stating that

      "Clear criteria for the use of FMD vaccine should be agreed in advance by consultation with the Commission and IAH, Pirbright and that approval in principle for its use should be obtained from Ministers" (Drummond 1999:6).

      Drs Crispin (now Professor Crispin, of Bristol University Veterinary School) and Binns, working as Temporary Veterinary Inspector's (TVI's) during the epidemic, observed the consequences of the failure to fully implement Drummonds' recommendations at first hand, namely, that the recruitment of additional veterinary surgeons was "poorly organized", with "very poor use made of experienced veterinary surgeons in the field and to provide an organized back up for difficult decisions" (Crispin and Binns 2002: 1-2).

      We can infer from the unnecessarily protracted pace of developments at the first case (above), that FMD awareness, and therefore FMD Contingency Planning and rehearsal, had been in abeyance for some time. Yet all the experts in FMD state that rehearsal is imperative to the rapid and successful deployment of FMD control measures; to quote an example presented by Dr. Paul Sutmoller (an internationally renowned expert in FMD), at a Conference in London in June, 2001 :- staff might be sent to a hypothesized outbreak where they propose to bury the 'carcasses'-- only to find solid rock 10 centimetres under the surface, requiring, obviously, an urgent reappraisal, and a reselection of either disposal method, disposal location or control strategy.

      Drummond had drawn attention to the increasing environmental awareness and legislation that would affect the disposal of carcasses, as well as changed public perceptions to the slaughtering of apparently or actually healthy animals for the sake of an 'economic' virus; yet little or no account was taken of this observation in the Contingency Plans. What happened in practice was that MAFF hastily commissioned an independent Consultancy to report on the risks of Prion protein dispersal through carcass disposal -- an apparently soothing document (D.N.V.Consulting 2001) but contentious (because it dispersed strongly localized risk across national boundaries to derive an acceptably low result), but which will have served to 'privatise' responsibility for the consequences, any such of which would doubtless be defended robustly through the Courts for several decades by a business insurer. This process has not yet reached its final legal resolution - see Regina v. Feakins'.

      Similarly, questions arose during the outbreak, about the short and long-term dangers to human health and the environment from the pollutants (in addition to prions) dispersed by the combustion of carcasses - from dioxins in particular. Various bodies were (eventually) commissioned to examine such, but the reliability and independence of their methodology has been questioned -- initial desk-top studies were derived from (irrelevant) data extrapolated from incinerator chimney-stack emissions (with no bearing on the wet pyres constructed, initially, in pits in the ground [to facilitate ash disposal], with consequent loss of draught at the base of the fire). Later emission measurements were seen to be taken from fires (doubtless suitably prepared) which had been burning hotly for 24 hours previously -- a universe away from the smog and smut-laden fogs that hung over many rural communities for weeks!

      Lack of rehearsal meant that faults in the thinking were not exposed. Farming practice had moved on since the 1967-8 outbreak, but the Contingency Plans (or the Ministry) had failed to fully take account of such developments, for example, the fact that farms were generally so much bigger, operating with less staff and with larger herds and flocks (to be disposed of); furthermore, these farms were often scattered over a wider geographical area than previously, causing greater disease penetration; nor had allowance been made for the fact that lack of profitability in the livestock sector for some years prior to 2001 (essentially, post-BSE), meant that farmers had been spending little on Veterinary care, resulting in many farms having no veterinary inspection from one year to the next -- a precondition, combined with the many years free of the disease, for the unnoticed spread of the disease, especially when manifesting in an atypical, low-virulence form.

      Hand-in-hand with a lack of rehearsal and consequent Contingency Plan updating went a lack of consultation. Comprehensive stakeholder involvement in Contingency Plan construction and rehearsal would have both increased Ministry awareness of the current realities and permitted 'ownership' of the response by the affected communities -- greatly reducing controversy in the course of the crisis. However, when the outbreak occurred

      "key organizations such as the National Farmers Union, the local Government Association and representatives of livestock interests either believed that the Department had no plans for an outbreak of Foot and mouth disease or had not seen them." (Public Accounts Committee 2003: 8)

      As Dr. Anderson reported, one stakeholder described them as the "best kept national secret" (Anderson 2002:32) -- surely, a failure per se in a contingency plan.

      At the start of the outbreak the Contingency Plans were not available to the public, only being finally posted on DEFRA's website in August 2001. Dr. Anderson informs us that over 200 Emergency Instructions were issued in the course of the outbreak, to which Dr.'s Crispin and Binns add that they were

      "frequently working" (as TVI's) "under a cascade of different emergency regulations on an almost daily basis. This would suggest that the contingency plans were both ineffective and outdated. We finally obtained a copy in February 2002 and can confirm that they are both outdated and impractical; it is telling that so many revisions to the plans took place in March and April."

      They continue:-

      "The whole point of contingency plans is that they must be in the public domain and widely available and it is axiomatic that they must be practiced to ensure that they are realistic" (Crispin and Binns 2002:1).

      The last update to the Contingency Plans had been in July 2000. At this time the Chief Veterinary Officer (C.V.O.) was aware of the slow progress in implementing the recommendations of the Drummond Report, not least because on the 18th July a colleague (the Assistant CVO of Wales) had written to him expressing concern about the same. On the 12th July the CVO had visited the Pirbright Laboratory "where he was shown the deteriorating FMD situation in the Middle and Far East" (Anderson 2002:35), and he himself wrote on the 18th July to colleagues within the SVS with regard to this issue. However, and significantly, the CVO did not take his concerns to the Minister, nor to the Ministry of Agriculture's Permanent Secretary -- a strange and needless lapse.

      The Contingency Plans, as drawn up by the Ministry of Agriculture, still in World War 2 'dig for victory' mode, were "directed solely at Agriculture". Yet, "the tourism industry suffered more than any sector" (due to the closure of the footpaths and appeals to the public to stay away from the countryside) "and incurred some £5 billion of losses" (Public Accounts Committee 2003:6). The de-prioritisation of food production and the enhanced significance of the service sector since 1968, had not penetrated MAFF's collective psyche, and was thus not represented in the Plans.

      Technological advances, such as Geographical Information Systems (GIS), that might have assisted, were of scant use; for example, the data that farmers had supplied in their 'IACS' forms (Integrated Administrative and Control Systems), turned out to be integrated in relation to payment of grants and subsidies but of little immediate relevance to epidemiology. It transpired that MAFF had experienced several years of funding rescindments and the development of their IT (Information Technology) programme had suffered as a result. Sadly, differing components of their systems were incompatible, a problem aggravated by the absence of 'coterminous ' boundaries for crisis management - that is to say different authorities and different public Services would have boundaries other than the same, leading to overlap, underlap and confusion.

      Immediately prior to the outbreak, 80% of the State Veterinary Service had been involved with an outbreak of Classical Swine Fever (C.S.F.). This followed a long preoccupation with Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) and concerns that BSE might have entered the sheep population, as well as having to deal with Scrapie, increasing Tuberculosis, a pets' passport scheme and ongoing Rabies control issues. FMD, from which we were almost complacently free, was a low priority -- but a high risk (when 'risk' is defined as likelihood x consequence).

      Just as the Contingency Plans did not contain a mechanism to trigger an automatic livestock movement ban, neither did they have a trigger to occasion the support of the Armed Forces, nor one to alert colleagues in the Civil Service and across Government that the SVS and MAFF were unable to cope. Dr Anderson calls this latter a 'silo' mentality, whereby tensions between the vets in the SVS and non-veterinary administrators in MAFF, and between MAFF and other Departments, worked other than in the national interest.

      Crispin and Binns pointed out that far too many non-veterinary tasks were, at least initially, performed by vets, and they also drew attention to the problems arising from the centralisation of control through Page Street, the Head Quarters of the SVS --the difficulty of getting through on the telephone, the constantly changing telephone numbers, emergency lines closed overnight, but in particular "the worst aspect of the centralised bureaucracy was that some changes seemed to be absolutely divorced from the reality of what was happening in the field and more related to concerns about local and general elections". For example,

      " some veterinary surgeons were informed that they had to reach an immediate on-farm decision as to whether an animal was infected or not, without any recourse to a second opinion, a wait and see approach, or laboratory confirmation. This is not in line with the written recommendations of the State Veterinary Service (Viper Chapter 3) and put unfair pressure on inexperienced TVI's."

      Worse follows, however, as on some occasions

      "MAFF refused to accept the diagnosis of FMD from some TVI's with considerable experience of the disease, for example veterinary surgeons from Africa" (Crispin and Binns 2002:1. See also Anon. 29/4/01).

      Surprisingly, also, given the constant stream of warnings emanating both from the EU and domestic experts at Pirbright, not only was no 'trigger' prescribed for the implementation of vaccination, but, to quote Dr. Anderson, "We found no evidence that the UK took heed of the 1999 European Report guidelines in altering UK strategic policy. Contingency planning for vaccination was minimal," he continued; instructions for vaccination in the Veterinary Instructions (VIPER) "had been produced in May 1998." Dr. Anderson concluded that plans for vaccination had to be developed at the same time as fighting the disease- a testimony to an absence of contingency planning for vaccination confirmed by a quote he selects from a report the CVO had written to him on 28th March 2002 stating that:

      "No estimate has been made of the human resource requirements for a vaccination programme. For the purpose of this paper the assumption is made that a stamping out policy would be operated first and that, if sufficient trained resources were immediately available as outlined, vaccination could be avoided." (My emphasis.)

      This cannot be so much construed as a coherent contingency plan for vaccination, as a working resolution not to do so.

      Other perceived and noted weaknesses in the Contingency Plans include the fact that they had failed to allow for a multi-focal epidemic such as that following a farmer failing to report infection, not that such was unprecedented:- "A single outbreak that was not reported early enough was responsible for half the outbreaks during the epidemic" -- Dr Anderson quoting the Gower Report into the FMD outbreak of 1954. Nor did they give consideration to 'silent' spreading through sheep -- though again such was a characteristic well-known to both Pirbright and Page Street, referred to in the OIE Manual of Standards for Diagnostic tests and Vaccines, (2000), as

      "the often inapparent nature of the disease in these species" (O.I.E.2000:89).

      Dr North, in a "Memorandum" of 24th April 2002, entitled "Foot and Mouth Disease: what went wrong ", delineated 9 issues which he believed could be considered "as constituting the major failures of the UK authorities /EU Commission in relation to the 2001 FMD epidemic"(North 2002:1) His analysis is of such probity that I shall risk the charge of temporary deviation to list all 9 here, as all pertain to the topic in hand.

      Dr. North cites inadequate Contingency Planning as the primary factor-

      "The contingency plan was based on a model which presumed early detection / reporting of the disease, permitting early intervention at a stage when the epidemic was limited to known or immediately detectable foci there was no alternative strategy devised to cope with what actually happened -- late reporting / detection of the disease with widespread dispersion in multiple, unknown foci."

      Second was "slow response to an unpredicted situation- the authorities were slow to appreciate that the scale and extent of the epidemic was different from that which had been previously experienced". Third are "inadequate resources", see below, fourth,"wrong response the wrong control was applied, viz. the contiguous cull, which added to the logistic and management difficulties and alienated sections of the agricultural and rural communities".

      Dr. North then points to the "wrong economic base", this being "the presumed economic needs of the livestock industry" (overlooking the needs of the larger community), the "complex legislative base- the combination of OIE rules, European Union and domestic law defied easy understanding", "failures of communication particularly the case regarding the vaccination issue where the technical and legal aspects were often inaccurately reported by officials, ministers and interest groups", and "vested interests -- certain powerful groups were able to dominate the public debate and prevail on policy issues". The final issue was "inadequate epidemiology -- a failure effectively to carry out detailed and adequate studies which would assist in the investigation of the causation and spread dynamics of the epidemic, to the extent that no reliable, complete information can now be obtained".

      Whilst the latter is of little relevance to the topic in hand here, it will be of significance in the construction of future Contingency Plans (see the final Chapter).

      With regard to contingency plans, Dr. North astutely observed that " no contingency plan, however good, can take effect unless there are adequate resources to cope with an epidemic situation." But Dr. Anderson informs us, in the 'Introduction and Summary' to his Report, that MAFF, having taken the lead within government in managing the outbreak, almost immediately came under "severe resource pressures" (Anderson 2002: 9), a shortage of vets being an immediate handicap, unsurprising given the progressive reductions to the SVS staffing levels, from 597 in 1979 down to 286 in 2001, of which only 220 were in field service (Anderson 2002:27). Additionally, as Dr. Ruth Watkins (a medical virologist) has pointed out, there is a paucity of trained veterinary diagnostic pathologists, whose "activities and priorities of diagnosis are different from and may conflict with those of research" (Watkins, private correspondence).

      A further weakness of the Contingency Plans was that they made no provision for the co-option of outside expertise. As a consequence, we saw both the unconventional circumstances surrounding the formation of what became known as the 'FMD Science Group', and the extremely controversial, (contemporaneously and now, as a precedent for future control policies), 'contiguous' and Three Kilometre "Firebreak" culls.

      A few months after first taking office, the Labour Government closed the 'special unit' at Tolworth, established in 1992 to monitor and combat the activities of 'rogue dealers' -- initially to prevent animal welfare abuses amongst live exports, but an informed eye was also thereby maintained on 'bed and breakfasting' abuses, 'out of ring' sales, 'dirty pig' and other anomalous movements. The units' vigilance had resulted in live exports falling from two million head in 1992, to just 48,000 in 1997, when the unit was abolished. This figure then increased to 1.2 million in the twelve months preceding the outbreak in 2001 (Walters 2001). The resurgence in the export figures, combined with the £400,000 annual saving from the closure at Tolworth, may have, at least temporarily, delighted the Chancellor of the Exchequer, (although most of the exports were ethically questionable, both in terms of the conditions of travel and of slaughter); the 'risk' that UK rogue dealers might be trading vehicle-to-vehicle with their counterparts in Southern Europe, neither party likely to be over-preoccupied with 'biosecurity' (we are by definition, speaking about rogue dealers here), was either not considered or considered 'low risk'. Were these enhanced risks factored into the Contingency Plans

      Finally, the EU Contingency Plans have ring vaccination starting outside the Protection Zone. In my opinion (and I am delighted to see that Dr Barteling agrees with me) this is too far away. Vaccination should proceed both from near the centre of infection inwards and from outside the protection Zone inwards -- both always preceeded by veterinary inspection for clinical symptoms, and monitored by NSP sero-surveillance post-infection to determine if any infected animals have been vaccinated or vaccinated animals have been infected post-vaccination (on a herd or flock basis as agreed with the OIE).

      The UK Contingency plans could be said to have been 'Euro-compliant' but not 'living'. As Lord Whitty said in the House of Lords, "In the event, we were dealing with the kind of outbreak that was not really covered by the contingency plan", which most usefully summarises the weaknesses in the Contingency Plans.

       

      Conclusion.

      It is clear that EU and UK Contingency Plans are and were 'compatible', that is to say, a lack of compatibility did not primarily create the disaster that the management of the 2001 epizootic in the UK became (although UK ability to deliver a decisive response to FMD was perhaps not compatible with European expectations of the same; prior to the outbreak, the Commission "judged the UK's readiness for disease outbreaks as the best in the Community" [Anderson 2002:36]).

      That said, certain faultlines have appeared in the bifurcated control (of control) systems. Dr. North has pointed to the protracted failure of the EU to inspect the UK (and other member States') Contingency Plans, other than on paper, post-1993, as a failure of some magnitude, along with a failure to inspect the UK's Emergency vaccination contingency preparations. With hindsight, this would have been a sensible precaution, albeit improbable prior to 2001, given the UK's (known anti-vaccination preference and) presumed world-leading competence in FMD (having created globally the concept of and led the way to Disease Free Status, the home of the World Reference Laboratory, etc.).

      During the course of the outbreak of 2001, the EC sent several missions to the UK to report on the management of the crisis. They found "no major flaws" with the way that the outbreak was being managed. Dr North has questioned whether the EC can be regarded as an impartial actor at this juncture, as their own failings were implicit in the UK response (see Summarised Findings, at foot of this section).

      It is not clear why the EU did not suggest, insist or even lean strongly in favour of vaccination in the UK, when at least 7 of the 10 criteria for vaccination had been met.

      Alarmingly, and a genuine instance of control being 'a two-headed beast', was the fact that on the 6th March 2001 the EU cited 'low risk of windborne spread due to low titres of virus production from sheep' as a reason why they would not insist on vaccination being used (to partially answer my question above); yet, the UK Modellers', with total disregard for this most relevant data regarding sheep, Pan Asia 'O' and this outbreak, drawing on data from the '67/8 outbreak (where high titres of virus production from cattle and pigs was thought to have played a key role in the spread of the disease), spawned the 'Contiguous' and 3 Kilometre "Firebreak" culls, which, once applied by political decree, led to the awful loss of (mostly healthy) animal life. Truly the right-hand did not know what the left-hand was doing, or vice versa!

      A similar schism of logic appears to have overtaken the Modellers concept of 'R o'. The "so-called 'case reproduction number', R o is the average number of new cases generated by one current case"(Anderson 2002:90). The EC Scientific Committee for Animal Health and Welfare had debated R o in 1999, and concluded that if R o is greater than one then the disease is spreading faster than the controls can cope, which indicates that vaccination should be used. The UK Modellers accepted the premise, but denied the conclusion, opting instead for even more of the 'failing' control policy -- failing because culling plus disposal plus cleansing and disinfection not only creates an exponential growth of tasks, but draws in an increasing number of workers, few (none) able to maintain Biosecurity standards compatible with a laboratory (BL 4), many of whom are drawn from and return home throughout the rural community, thereby facilitating further spread.

      That such methods eventually got ahead of the disease cannot be denied; but "Any fool can, at great cost, destroy animals and, by that means, bring an epidemic to a halt " (North 2002['What went Wrong']: 3); however, when that disease is essentially an economic one, whether such can be regarded as 'proportional', economical, desirable, or even sane is a judgement the taxpayer can expect to be made. In the absence of a full Public Inquiry, one is forced to re-examine the financial figures, which certainly gainsay any 'victory' (except perhaps for folly over common sense) -- meat exports in 2001 being worth £570 million, total livestock and livestock products worth £1,314.7 million (Anderson 2002: 137), and yet the costs of FMD amounting to "£2.7 billion and when other figures are taken into account this figure exceeds £10 billion" (Crispin and Binns 2002: 4).

      This may be an opportune moment to query why it was that the Ministry were willing to use the untried, untested and 'unvalidated' contiguous and 3Km Firebreak culls when they were apparently so averse to using 'unvalidated' technology such as the US Department of Agriculture's Real --Time diagnostic equipment

      I was also interested to read that "during the outbreak, the Pirbright Laboratory validated the solid phase competitive (SPC) ELISA (Enzyme linked immunosorbent assay) which allowed more samples to be tested than the original liquid phase blocking (LPB) ELISA," (Anderson 2002: 154), interested not least because requests to Pirbright to use and validate the above machine during the outbreak were summarily despatched with the argument that 'new technology could not be validated during an outbreak'; perhaps it should be made clear that 'new' has a special semantic during the course of an outbreak, meaning of 'foreign' or 'non-Pirbright' origin.

      Ultimately, decision over control methods is an EC matter, although such is derogated as far as possible to the Member States, which may take 'extra measures' over and above those minima 'recommended' by the EC. Drummond in his Report had expressed the legitimate concern that a proposal to vaccinate against FMD could arise either from the UK "acting as a Member State in its own right or could follow a request by other Member States to the Commission to impose vaccination upon the UK if the Standing Veterinary Committee felt that disease was not being controlled quickly enough" (Drummond 1995:25).

      What has been less clear is whether or how readily the UK would act upon any Control Measures 'imposed' over our national sovereignty by order from Brussels -- whether such were to vaccinate, slaughter or a combination of both; naturally, the body politic and civil service would have to fall into line. However, the 2002 revisions to the Animal Health Act have ensured that the Department now has (as opposed to 2001, when such was, in Dr Anderson's words "insufficiently clear" [Anderson 2002:98]), the power to impose whatever the Minister declares (subject to 'best scientific advice'), so, actually that is clear -- Page Street, with more Draconian powers, will be in charge unless they fail again, in which case Brussels will assume control; the same applies to all Member States.

      After such an "obscene disaster" (Davies 2002: Q.187) as occurred during 2001, one can only hope (and work to ensure) that such will never be permitted to happen again. However, as Dr. Anderson said in the Introduction to his Report,

      "We seem destined to repeat the mistakes of history similar conclusions to ours were drawn about the need for preparation, the rapid deployment of resources and the central importance of speed in the Northumberland Report of 1968, and back through the decades".

      This author can only add his hopes to the 'heaps' of wishes that our vigilance, preparation and Planning will serve us better on the next occasion, whenever that occasion will be. To quote Gareth Davies, Veterinary Epidemiologist and Member of the Science Group, "We must do better next time" (Davies 2002).

      The huge contribution made to mankind by our domesticated animals-- meat, milk, manure, hides, wool, hoof, horn, blood, traction, transport, companionship, assistance in land management, as guide and sniffer dogs, to detect weapons, as subjects of experimentation for drug and other trials --all these are well-known if sometimes taken for granted.

      I would be remiss were I not to also point to the valuable additional service our livestock make, or can potentially make, especially to 'Developed World' human welfare, by affording us the opportunity and reminding us of the necessity to examine, practice, sharpen and rehearse our bio-security and disaster contingency arrangements, whether for natural or hostile -- origin events.

      --------------

      Summarised Findings

      With hindsight, the events of 2001, often regarded as a 'disaster waiting to happen', bore all the characteristics of a tragedy, in that events over a wide area, some a decade or more apart, were combining to force upon Western Europe and in particular the rural communities, the "devastating experience" (Bender 2002: Q. 173) that we witnessed. I have summarized below 7 steps to disaster.

      7 Steps to Disaster.

      1. The EC cease prophylactic vaccination in 1991, but fail to use the financial savings engendered to improve Border securities against illegal livestock and livestock product movements.
      2. The experts assume, because it is the obvious response (to them), that a major epidemic would be treated with vaccination, but fail to ensure that such is mandatorily endorsed in legislation. This response is not obvious to the UK representatives, who are driving the policy to follow UK practice.
      3. The experts develop criteria based on the low incidence/low impact years when infection was being brought under control throughout the EC by means of prophylactic vaccination -- but failed to take account of increasing susceptibility to widespread epidemics as Europe's stock of naive livestock rapidly increased.
      4. The EC failed to inspect /ensure that Contingency Plan provision in the Member States was as stated and being maintained and updated in accordance with the written agreement of 1993 or subsequent recommendations.
      5. The updated warnings of 1999 fell on 'deaf' ears -- the tired, over-worked, under-resourced and under-valued SVS and MAFF failed to respond with sufficient alacrity. UK Contingency Plans Euro compliant but deficient --
      6. (Mr Bacon) "We have already established that the worst case scenario you knew about was 1967 and your planning was not anything like adequate to cope with that, was it Was it " (Mr Bender [Permanent Secretary to {in charge of} DEFRA]) "No". (Bender 2002: Q. 36).

      7. The CVO fails to report obstacles to the implementation of the Drummond Report, either to the Minister for Agriculture or the Permanent Secretary to the Ministry. The CVO's (ex-Officio) inherited disinclination for emergency vaccination ensures that realistic planning for such is never attempted, following a historical failure to differentiate between an emergency vaccination programme and a prophylactic one, the former erroneously regarded as an 'admission' of endemicity.
      8. The CVO fails to absorb the 'lesson to be learned' from the SVS internal report into Classical Swine Fever presented to Senior Management on 5th December 2000, a slide from which states-

      "Never look on the bright side in the notifiable disease emergency. Always assume that the worst will happen and then you are pleasantly surprised if it does not." (Bacon 2002: Q.35).

       

      --------------

      In this Chapter I have explored the weaknesses inherent in both sets of Contingency Plans, searched for unresolved discrepancies in the bifurcated response, and focused attention upon those areas where improvements were most immediately required. In the time this has been in preparation, some such have been agreed -- an automatic livestock movement ban on confirmation of FMD, greater alacrity in drawing in the Armed Forces, and annual Parliamentary scrutiny of the Contingency Plans to be signed personally by the Prime Minister. Mass closures of the Footpaths, so devastating for tourism in 2001, will not take place.

      In the following Chapter I will look briefly at the new technologies potentially available in 2001, now more certainly established for use, before returning to examine the Contingency Plans now placed before Parliament in Chapter 7.

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

      Chapter 6. Recent technological developments.

       

      In this Chapter I propose to deal briefly with the recent technological advances, some boosted by the advance of Pan Asia O across the globe and the recent European, Asian and African experiences of the same, some deriving from the ongoing struggle against FMD in South America, again strengthened by their recent resurgences. Sadly, pressures of time restrict this endeavour to little more than a 'name-check' or inventory, and scope exists for far more work on this section. Advances in diagnostics, vaccinology and IT are the primary areas of relevance, but developments in epidemiological Modelling, ecological economics and in Risk Analysis also come under consideration, which in future must be factored into the construction of the policy and Contingency Plans for a modern Agenda 21-compliant response mechanism.

      The technologies in question :-

      From April of 2001 pressure grew for the Government to use the Cepheid 'Smart Cycler' portable Real Time (Reverse Transcriptase) Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) diagnostic equipment, (or other similar mobile rapid diagnostic equipment). Objections raised by Pirbright and MAFF included the fact that such had not been 'validated', and the impossibility of validating new equipment during an outbreak. This equipment, demonstrated on Tomorrow's World on BBC Television during April that year, had been developed jointly by the United States' Departments of Defence and Agriculture to provide a rapid bio-assay in the event of a bio-terrorist attack. It was recommended to us by Prof. Brown, FRS, OBE, formerly Assistant Head of Pirbright WRL and employed (in 2001) by the US Department of Agriculture after a period as a visiting Professor at Harvard.

      The equipment had been designed to provide an incredibly sensitive (and accurate) reading of any virus it was 'programmed' (by means of different reagents) to detect. In the case of FMD, Prof Brown, stated that the machine could detect as few as 100 virions -- in the order of 1,000 times more sensitive than other assays at the time. Furthermore, no great skill was required to use the machine and a result would be obtained in a maximum of two hours -- hence the phrase Real --Time.

      Furthermore, the machine would work on a wide range of samples -- oral swabs from one animal, or an aggregated (pooled) sample from a whole flock or herd. Similarly, it could be used to monitor a milk supply; given that cows excrete virus several days before the onset of clinical symptoms this would appear to be a useful piece of technology, to monitor incoming milk tankers during a crisis, and trigger an early response to allow rapid 'upstream' detection of the source of infection were a positive result to be obtained .

      The machine amplifies viral RNA for determination by genetic sequencing in a rapid succession of growth-cycles, (hence Smart-Cycler) and was at least partially devised for military application. Therefore it is possible that repeated use of the machine had not been a priority, (for example, how to clean it to prevent cross-contamination) given that it was perhaps conceived for a 'Doomsday' yes/no scenario ('no, it's still clean, yes, you have bigger concerns than the machine'). However, it seems incredible that such a device, only the size of a suitcase, should be impossible to clean and at a cost of about £20,000 each (which would doubtless reduce rapidly for larger orders) would appear to represent a worthwhile expenditure; in addition, cost was NOT an objection in the UK in 2001 as various bodies offered to purchase one for the UK, and both TVI's of 2001 and vets with experience of FMD from 1967-8 offered to help use and validate it.

      Tests by Pirbright were belatedly conducted on this machine in the autumn of 2001, which, we were informed, were only satisfactory after Pirbright had modified the reagent supplied by the machine's manufacturer. The machines' manufacturer does not produce the reagent, nor did they supply one in this instance, so another mystery awaits resolution here. This technology has now been validated (as of March 2003) for use in the field against FMD in the United States of America by the US Congress. One is left wondering what the UK government is so scared of assaying -- a laboratory engendered strain of FMD, a background endemicity, or does Pirbright have something close to market themselves

      Penside tests in July 2001 the veterinary Press were informed that Pirbright had developed a 'penside' diagnostic test, akin to the common pregnancy test, which a vet could safely take on-farm for rapid confirmation of a provisional clinical diagnosis. However, these are said to be (Brown, F., personal communication 4/7/01) far (1,000 x) less sensitive than the RT-PCR technology (above).

      Non Structural Protein (NSP) differentiation facilitating vaccines and tests.

      "A test, which differentiates antibodies due to vaccination from antibodies due to infection, would be of great value in FMD control" (Van Aarle 2002:1).

      Work on either a 'marker' vaccine that would leave a distinctive hallmark of its presence, or a test that could differentiate antibodies due to vaccination from antibodies due to infection has been proceeding since the mid-1980's. Several papers were published from 1990 onwards, focusing on the use of the Non-Structural Proteins as a marker. The principle (outlined in Chapter 2) is that animals, vaccinated with a modern, highly purified vaccine from which the Non-Structural Proteins (of the FMD virus) have been removed, will develop antibodies to Structural proteins but not to Non Structural Proteins (NSP) of the FMD virus, and that therefore animals which show NSP in their blood have antibodies as a result of (exposure to) infection, not arising from vaccination. Following encouraging results, the EC sponsored a research programme, Concerted Action CT93 0909, on the potential use of tests based on NSP, and concluded "that the polyprotein 3ABC is the single most reliable indicator of infection" (Van Aaarle 2002:1).

      Thus, (in this instance) Intervet developed (in conjunction with the Instituto Zooprofilatico in Brescia, and Pirbright WRL in the UK) what they call the "Chekit-FMD-3ABC" test, and announced in July 2002 that it is validated, demonstrating specificity and sensitivity greater than 99% (that is, ability to throw neither False negatives nor False Positives). Around the world other manufacturers are close to market with similar products.

      The advantages this test offer are many-fold. Firstly, it is serotype-aspecific, that is to say, it will detect all serotypes of FMD. It is quick -- results obtained in a few hours, relatively simple to operate and 'safe', as it does not contain live virus.

      Potential applications are many - firstly, and primarily, it "enables authorities to use vaccination in FMD control strategies and avoid massive preventative culling of healthy animals" (Schueller 2002) -- because it is now possible to differentiate between stock that have been infected either pre- or post vaccination (on a herd or flock basis as agreed by the OIE). Thus stock that have been vaccinated and declared FMD-free can proceed into the human food Chain or move (presently within-country only, ie not for export) as breeding or fattening stock as previously.

      Additionally, this test can be used for 'screening':-

      -- at Border Posts where stock are moving internationally, for example at entry points to the EC.

      • to rapidly confirm diagnosis (although further laboratory work is required to ascertain the serotype),
      • as an aid to regional eradication, and
      -- within countries where FMD is endemic, to help monitor 'vaccination discipline'. In countries where FMD is endemic and vaccination practised, a high titre of antibodies is traditionally regarded as a sign of good vaccination cover (see post-1968 revised Bledisloe Arrangements, Chapter 3). However, the antibodies may arise from vaccination and infection (whether from a different serotype or from infection pre- or post-vaccination). This test will be able to determine the source of the antibodies.

      The only cautionary note I would sound is that this test is based on recombinant technology; if it is as successful as its manufacturers' would doubtless hope, then it will be in use not just following an outbreak, but as a diagnostic, screening and trade monitoring tool as well, increasingly used as success creates demand leading to economies in production leading to wider uptake. Although these testing packages will be neutralised after use in terms of FMD, I am concerned that their widespread use around the planet, perhaps for some decades to come, could generate a legacy of environmental pollution not envisaged in the present enthusiasm to avert the cull, just as doubtless, 120 years ago the culling of millions of healthy animals to stamp out FMD would have seemed unimaginable.

      ----------

       

      Developments in vaccines. At the conclusion of the EU Temporary Committee's Report into FMD, their rapporteur, Herr Kressel- Dorfler expressed a wish that scientists should produce a safe, multivalent, 100% effective, prophylactic vaccine conferring both sterile immunity and life long protection from one dose. In addition this vaccine should preferably be cheap, and stable in a range of temperatures (therefore not requiring a 'cold chain'); Herr Kressel- Dorfler might have added that a self-propelled winged version should be produced to help eliminate endemicity in the flying pig population.

      I hope Herr Kressel- Dorfler will forgive my jest, not directed at him but used to illustrate the potential journey yet to be made in the field of vaccines. That said, experts such as Prof. Brown have consistently maintained that the vaccines available in 2001 were perfectly suitable for the task required of them had they been deployed; indeed part of the tragedy of 2001 was that we turned our back on technologies that we had available -- adequate vaccines, rapid diagnostic technology and post vaccination differentiation tests (although arguably the latter came just too late, as they were still being perfected at the start of the outbreak).

      ----------

      Information Technology held and still holds many potential sources of assistance in exotic disease control, with a capability to -

      • facilitate diagnosis (through uploading data from an IP back to experts in a laboratory).
      • Assist the management of the field operation:- GIS and GPS were available in 2001, but their potential was not fully utilised. MAFF IT could not interrogate alternative data streams, even of their own origin.
      • assist the epidemiologists with data for modelling. Improved data would allow improved Modelling -- with input fresh from the field, (but, essentially, monitored by the Veterinarians, both at Pirbright and Page Street, "who are generating the Data and have experience of dealing with the disease" -- Kitching P., face to face interview, Lyons 2002).
      • assist on the ground with information download ie printers attached to mobile phones would enable vets in the field to print-off Forms as needed.
      Additionally, IT could and should have an enhanced role in enabling communications, for internal communications amongst the professionals dealing with the crisis, for the Stakeholders and general public seeking information, and to allow the professionals in the field to remain in touch with their families and with the bigger picture outside their immediate region.

      Other :-

      Mobile bio-secure laboratories. In the Lessons Learned Inquiry Report, Dr. Anderson states with regard to the above that Pirbright routinely utilise RT-PCR in their laboratory and "had evaluated the use of portable equipment. They concluded that RT-PCR has much potential for rapid testing in mobile or local laboratories, but not on the farm itself" (Anderson 2002:96). During the outbreak itself, mobile laboratories, not on-farm use, were proposed for the full utilisation of such equipment. What progress if any has been made with the development of mobile laboratories since 2001, or will such be rendered needless by the NSP-tests

      Portable bio-security portals for staff on/off IP's -- providing shower and clothes changing facilities, secure disposal of on-site wear, enhanced decontamination opportunities for on/off -site effects --mobile phone, records, samples etc.. Has any progress been made in development of these facilities, which must be designed allowing for ease of scaling-up

      High throughput mobile incinerators, self-explanatory; an American offer to lend some to the UK was inexplicably turned down. Do we now have a UK or EU capacity

      Effective painless nasal lavage -- ostensibly a (Australian vets') joke, but actually a useful tool in reducing vet stand-down time (or reducing the risk from reducing the down-time). Is a UK product being trialled yet

      Develop a Pan European Reference Laboratory - with powers to police all Member States. In the absence of such, 'absence of clarity' will prevail. However, as a safeguard against such becoming corrupted, national Laboratories, and in particular Pirbright WRL, should maintain their independent status.

      Agricultural and Food ethicists -- extremely thin on the ground, never more needed, should be working on the development of the Contingency Plans, along with

      Ecological economists -- to help find structures to internalise those costs of the policy that agriculture should bear, and to emphasise to Society at large and the Policy Makers what the consequences of the chosen policies will be.

       

      Conclusion.

      In this Chapter I have listed and briefly reviewed the recent developments, both scientific and technological, sociological and ethical, many or most of which were physically at the disposal of the CVO and the policy-makers in February 2001 or became so during the outbreak, (if not technically validated), and the benefits they offer us now for a modern animal disease control programme.

      In the following Chapter I will briefly examine the current Contingency Plans as laid before Parliament in March 2003 and then conclude, in the final Chapter of this study, by briefly examining whether the hypothesis has been resolved and how many of my 'Questions' (of Chapter One) remain unanswered, indicate in passing much- needed areas for further research, and express my hopes for the future.

       

       

      Chapter 7. CURRENT UK Contingency Plans

      Having briefly explored recent technological developments in the previous Chapter, in this I will examine the current FMD Contingency Plans, known by DEFRA as 'Version 3'. (DEFRA 2003).

      Following the 2001 outbreak, DEFRA engaged in a process of continual review and updating of their Contingency Plans, which were consolidated and published for discussion and comment, referred to as the 'Interim' Contingency Plans, in March 2002. This Interim Plan was then itself updated as anticipated in November 2002 following the Government's response to the Reports of Dr. Anderson and Sir Brian Follett (the Royal Society). Finally, on March 28th 2003, 'Version 3', the product of Stakeholder Consultation and 'Strategic' and 'Tactical' ('Gold' and 'Silver') level rehearsals was published.

      As with all previous versions of recent years, the bedrock document remains EC 85/511 (as amended), requiring prompt slaughter of infected and dangerous contact animals, with Movement and export restrictions, cleansing and disinfection. Similarly, the tripartite format remains the same, the overall Contingency Plan being framed by this 'Version 3', in conjunction with Chapter 3 of the State Veterinary Services' operational instructions ('VIPER' Handbook) and Local Authority contingency Plans. These then form the UK's EU-compliant Contingency Plan for dealing with FMD were the disease to strike tomorrow, but are still in the process of revision as will become clear below. They also provide a template or framework for the initial management of other exotic animal disease incursions.

      'Version 3', described as a 'living' document (therefore "always open for further comment" [page {p.}3]), and "developed with input from stakeholders " (p.2), incorporates many of the recommendations of the three Inquiries; input from Stakeholders is also, to DEFRA's credit, immediately apparent to an eye familiar with much of that input and process (see following paragraph). The Contingency Plan is now "considerably augmented" (since the version of November 2002) and through this greater comprehensibility, is, for the most part, successful in its stated aim "to make transparent the way in which FMD control policies would be implemented in the event of an outbreak" (p.2). The Document is available on DEFRA's website, and at 141 pages, is too long to pr cis here. I shall therefore refer only to especially salient points by page number, and apologise should anyone read this some years hence only to find that the 'living' document has changed beyond recognition; however, the Document itself informs us (p. 4) that DEFRA keep a Library at Smith Square which one may consult following 24 hours prior notification by telephone, at which not only this text but also VIPER Chapter 3 (in answer to Jon Dobson's [stakeholder] criticism reported at the start of Chapter 4) may be studied.

      It is apparent that a number of lessons have been learned. Of primary significance, a total national ban on all livestock movements will be imposed immediately upon confirmation of an outbreak (or prior to confirmation if the CVO is satisfied that further delay is unwarranted -- p.17). Similarly, the Armed Forces will be informed, and if the DEFRA Emergency Management Board decide that the situation warrants calling the newly-created Civil Contingencies Committee into being, the Ministry Of Defence will then be present at that highest level from then onwards.

      Footpaths, the closure of which did so much damage to tourism will remain open except across and within 3 km of an IP (although exceptionally the area may be larger - p.114) and local authorities will be encouraged to prosecute landowners who post private notices attempting to discourage or dissuade walkers (p.120). The disposal hierarchy has been revised (placing commercial incineration first, followed by rendering, then licensed Landfill [p.40] so that funeral pyres, televised images of which communicated dire images of "plague island" to potential overseas visitors (Miller 2001), will not be used again, other than in the most extreme of emergencies.

      Unveiled in this plan is the central role to be played by the newly formed (post -- 2001) Civil Contingencies Committee (CCC). Significantly, the CVO, whose solo dominant dormancy precipitated the scale of the disaster of 2001, has been effectively reduced to a relatively minor role - after confirming the initial outbreak he becomes subordinate to either the CCC or the DEFRA Emergencies Management Board, a loss of function which insures either that no one individual can overly dominate policy but perhaps more especially, (one hopes) to ensure that the narrow anti-vaccination prejudice that the CVO appears to inherit with the post does not inflict disproportionate damage to the country again.

      Thereafter, a large proportion of the changes are directed towards reducing the horrifying cost of the consequences of the incursion, perhaps best summarised as 'no more Gravy Train'. Certainly, in keeping with the popular scientific and political sentiment that vaccination should be regarded as a tool of first resort in future, Government have taken every step possible to 'disincentivise' slaughter, beginning with valuation -- valuers, who will be drawn only from a previously approved pool, will no longer be able to charge a percentage of stock valued (an incentive to inflate prices if ever there were one) but will operate on a fixed daily fee. Furthermore they will be scrutinised by a panel of 'monitor' valuers (p.39). The question of livestock value is currently under review and the Government would like to move to a fixed standard value, dispensing with the need for valuation in most cases.

      In future, a significant portion of the cost of compensation for compulsory Purchase for slaughter for disease control purposes per se or for welfare disposal may well be returned to the Agricultural industry, whereby, as in Holland, farmers pay a levy to create a fund from which a significant portion of the compensation is met (though this is still being resolved) -- (p.3).

      Furthermore, the Government are looking at passing the onus of secondary Cleansing and Disinfection back to the farmer (p.44) to perform such himself.

      Similarly, Version 3 provides careful instructions to regularise all purchasing of goods and services and stipulates that internal auditors, the Procurement Emergency Response Team (PERT), be in situ in the National Disease Control Centre within 8 hours of confirmation of an outbreak to ensure that the Procurements and Contracts Divisions aims' -- "robust, value for money contracts"- are achieved (p.32).

      Throughout the 2001 outbreak and afterwards much play was made of the alleged role of farmers in spreading the disease, whether through poor bio-security or through a failure on the part of the Industry (and government) to prevent questionable dealing practices - a self-regulatory failure arising from the absence of a governing professional body other than a trade negotiating union, (which latter has conspicuously failed to operate not as the guardians of a profession of primary importance to mankind and the Planet but as nothing other than the mouthpiece of and for the largest business interests -- not always the same thing) perhaps compounded by the failure on the part of the media and some politicians to differentiate between dealers and farmers, (a difficult task as most dealers farm to some extent, but one that should have been and still should now be undertaken for purposes of licensing, compensation etc.).

      It was also often stated that farmers were willingly conspiring to let their stock catch the disease. Generous compensation did sweeten a bitter pill - farmers live with their stock almost as family and the majority are extremely loathe to lose the stock in their care. Some individuals may have acted negligently during the outbreak (as doubtless did some Ministry Staff and employees); a few individuals may have acted criminally out of greed, others out of desperation (with no sales and therefore no income, bills to pay and feed running short) - every walk of life has its rogues, against which the spirited and expensive fight by many to preserve their stock through appeal to the courts, and perhaps especially the refusal of the Thomas-Everards' to allow their stock to be culled, waving off a Compensation cheque in excess of £1,000,000, speaks volumes for the honest decency of the majority of farmers; a failure to recognise this simple truth is as to tar all politicians as an Archer, all journalists as purveyors of page three scoops.

      In summary, the Contingency Plans could be regarded as progressive, removing incentives to malpractice, taking account of a broad and varied spectrum of stakeholder opinion and incorporating the majority of the recommendations arising from the three Inquiries as far as possible. Time will tell, and the length of time before the next outbreak will be a significant determinant in this, whether a future Government will be as resolved as the present Administration (having experienced such heavy financial damage to the carefully nurtured Treasury war-chest), to secure best value for the taxpayer at farmer's expense -- for example, not compensating Welfare culls, driving initial valuations in low, resisting 'valuation creep' and avoiding profligate waste on hastily agreed panic-purchasing of goods and services; the politics, the hue of the government of the day and the actual state of readiness (as well as the strain of FMD) may well determine.

      Of concerns there are several, some minor for attention at Smith Square, the major of which I will discuss briefly in the following, concluding Chapter.

       

      CHAPTER 8. TOWARDS A NEW DISEASE CONTROL STRATEGY, UK, EU, OIE.

       

      "Nothing can ever erase the horrors and the tragedies of the 2001 epidemic of FMD in the UK. But we can all resolve to establish more effective safeguards and -- should those safeguards fail -- an even more effective response". (Beckett 2002:1)

       

      In the previous Chapter I examined briefly the latest, that is the current version, of UK Contingency Plans for FMD, reservations with regard to which follow (below). In this Chapter I will reappraise both my original 'Questions' and the Hypothesis, to see how many of the former are now satisfactorily resolved, and what conclusions can be drawn with regard to the latter.

      Areas where further research could usefully be undertaken to forward a progressive exotic animal disease policy will be pointed to in passing before I conclude with some thoughts and hopes for the future.

      -----------

      Current Contingency Plans - Reservations :-

      1) Firstly, the absence of Rapid Diagnostic technology. The argument is that this being a small island, little would be gained in taking testing to premises other than the present Laboratories; furthermore little serology will in future be needed after initial confirmation and serotyping, until post-outbreak sero-surveillance to confirm DIFS (Version 3, p.43). I find the latter potentially worrying and the former specious in the extreme, merely serving to raise further questions about either the competence, or intent, of DEFRA. This is now a small island with a deliberate big hole in its' bio-security defence provision. Why

       

      2) The powers the Government have given themselves under the Animal Health Act 2002, quite apart from effectively retrospectively legalising the previously questionable contiguous and 3 Km culls, have now paved the way for a potential 10 km (or greater) Firebreak cull under the new 'Slaughter Protocol'. The primary rationale for this, (other than that stated above), is that in 2001, 79% of Infected Premises fell within 3 Kilometres of one another, leaving 'local spread' as the otherwise unidentified source of infection; whether such was due to direct animal-to-animal contact, via wildlife, vermin, fomites on people, vehicles, clean-up crew or even Ministry vets is no longer of interest to the present Staff at Page Street, because whatever the cause, they may (and will) implement 10km firebreak culling, subject only to a Ministerial Statement explaining why best scientific advice has persuaded him or her to take that step and not vaccinate. I am concerned that not only have the wrong lessons been learned (certainly with regard to FMD), but that the wrong solutions -- what I fear the present Minister may be referring to as " an even more effective response" (above), may now be passed on to our descendants.

      3) Vaccination. Widely held and hailed as the tool of first resort in future outbreaks, vaccination is not necessarily so at all, primarily because at no point does a 'trigger' mandatorily require its use. Doubtless it would be folly to 're-fight the last war' next time, when vaccination may be inappropriate if the outbreak is small and rapidly contained. However, in the interests of retaining a necessary 'flexibility', the UK, partially out of fear of vaccination being imposed by EU partners / trade competitors, has, at least temporarily, managed to persuade Europe to accept a plan without their originally proposed criteria ('that if slaughter times of 24 hours (IP) and 48 hours (Contiguous) were not met for two consecutive days, then vaccination should be implemented').

      My concern remains that delays in implementing Vaccination (following the necessary 1-2 days for Serotyping and subsequent 4 days for preparation of the vaccine from the frozen antigen, [if, that is, a suitable vaccine is available]), whilst the Epidemiologists model the outbreak and attempt to determine the extent of its likely spread, may take us past the 'optimal' point for the introduction of a vaccination programme, whereupon we may again be told that 'it's too late to vaccinate now -- we owe it to all those whose stock have died to continue killing', or, 'yes, we should have vaccinated then, but now it's too late.'

      Additionally, the plan drawn up for ADAS, (at present), to carry out a vaccination programme, appears to be bio-hazardous in the extreme. A representative will visit every farm to be vaccinated to inspect the stock-handling facilities, then a vet inspects to insure no clinical symptoms are apparent, then the vaccination crew attend. The first visit should be eliminated in almost all cases, resolved by telephone conversation with the farmer or his vet , combined with extra gates and handlers as part of the crew if likely to be needed. The Veterinary inspection should be as close to the time of the inoculation as possible, not run days ahead, or it will be both useless and dangerous as well.

      4) Questionable criteria. On page 89, (Annex B, point 5) 'Version 3' states that "The Governments objective in tackling any fresh outbreaks of FMD will be to eradicate the disease as quickly as possible ". At the above-mentioned conference in London on 13/6/01, Richard Rowe, then a Council Member of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, drew attention to the unusually high number of animals that were slaughtered per IP in 2001 -- 5-10 times more than in 1967-8. Rowe then explained that it is an axiom of FMD control that two options present themselves: the fast but expensive route, with a lot of culling; or the slower route, allowing movement restrictions time to limit and reveal infection, causing a longer period of loss of trade but far less culling. This is a known epidemiological and Veterinary choice for curtailing FMD. The argument that we all have an interest in the disease ending as soon as possible is true, but not at any price. The question therefore remains -- why the precipitate rush in 2001 Preoccupation with the General Election does appear to have predominated over science and economy. Dr Anderson in his generally excellent Report, precludes electoral considerations as having any bearing on the implementation of the policy, but he agrees that the Documentation surrounding the decision to implement the Contiguous and 3-Km. Culls were surprisingly absent, and recommends minuted or reported output at all levels in future. One also has to query whether the good Doctor could or would savage his friend and 'employer', the Prime Minister However, my concern is that 'speed' may now become enshrined as a necessity, rather than an option.

       

       

      Appraisal of the Questions - which answered The Hypothesis .

       

      The Questions.

      All my questions with regard to Contingency plans have been answered, with the exception of Questions 6 and 7.

      On vaccination, I have not been able to ascertain why 'we were unable so to do' (Q8), but am reasonably satisfied that DEFRA have made realistic provision for vaccine stocks, at least at present. I am glad to say that the fallacious 'scare' stories regarding vaccinated product (disregarding the 32 vaccines in use) of Question 11 have been comprehensively taken up by DEFRA, the Food Standards Agency (FSA), the Retail Trades Associations and, at the point of writing, it is hoped that the European FSA will comment upon such shortly, prior to a cross-societal communications campaign to correct misinformation in advance, and for the long-term. I have been reliably informed, (source: confidential) as have DEFRA, that such a message will be reinforced, if needs be, by activists blocking supermarket aisles (etc.) to query the vaccination 'provenance' of their provender if DEFRA Communications are overly inert.

      I have not been able to ascertain why farmers were not informed that, under EU law, they were entitled to compensation if their vaccinated stock became devalued -- one can only therefore assume that this goes back to the punitive settlement Margaret Thatcher achieved for UK agriculture at Maastricht. Nor have I yet ascertained whom in March of 2001 was effectively agitating for the OIE to ensure that they interpret their rules to the outer parameter of the ambiguity for the 'tariff' for vaccinated stock, ie interpreting a formerly 'Disease Free country without Vaccination' that vaccinated during an epidemic as a new Member with a two year probationary period --- another nail in the coffin of proposed vaccination; however, I hope to be able to ask Prof. Joe Brownlie of the RCVS for further details of this as he was well briefed and able to speak about such considerably in advance (March) of the OIE meeting in April at which this proposal was to be mooted - Veterinary Record, 148 (12):359.

       

      'First Cause' issues are outside the scope of this study but the Questions remain for the record; in the absence of a full Public Inquiry, considerably more research should be done on this topic, about which insufficient transparency has generated deeper suspicions. The Court records from the trial of Bobby Waugh (the farmer at the Index case) will serve as a case in point!

       

      The Hypothesis.

      Having examined the Hypothesis from the perspective of the 2001 FMD outbreak in the UK I have concluded that 'an effective National animal disease strategy is dependent on frequent objective review and the allocation of appropriate resources to carry out that strategy'. Dr Anderson observed (Anderson 2002:37) that had the stakeholders been aware of the paucity of the Contingency Plans for FMD at the end of 2000, they would have remonstrated. They were not, and did not.

      Whether we can agree to vaccinate or not, and in fact precisely because we cannot, we must maintain our vigilance and our state of preparedness against FMD and other exotic animal disease incursions. It is imperative that we protect our naive livestock populations, deliberately left vulnerable to demonstrate their freedom from infection, in the only way left open to us - with vigilantly maintained import and border controls, and regularly updated, cross-governmental and whole-of-society Contingency plan rehearsals. Regular objective review, an apparent intrusion in the world of the experts, will now be provided annually by Parliament, the necessity for which was more than demonstrated in 2001 -- I need only cite the failure of the CVO to report problems in the implementation of the Drummond Report, the failure to halt all livestock movements on confirmation of the first case, the Prime Ministerial reluctance to involve the Armed Forces (so near to an Election) and what wags deemed the Prime Ministerial 'emergency vacillation' policy (Private Eye 2001) to make my point.

      That delivery of such should command the resources necessary is as self-evident as the financial component of any transaction. Expenditure on vigilant protection against exotic disease incursion is akin to the case for a Health, Safety and Welfare policy or an Insurance policy -- with the bonus that whereas an individual or company 'loses' the cost of the premium, the State does less so, if some of her citizens are gainfully employed in that risk-reduction process; furthermore, some costs arising can be recouped if specific expertise (such as that found at the WRL, Pirbright) can be marketed on the European or world market. I would whole-heartedly recommend, not only that the Government endorse the British Veterinary Associations' proposals for a Territorial Army style appendage to the State Veterinary Service, but also that (some) farmers should be remunerated to work, in a part-time capacity, to ensure that Contingency plan arrangements are in place, rehearsed and updated -- surely the sort of ex-farm diversification from which farmers are being urged to supplement their incomes and a tangible route to addressing allegations of agricultural in-house malaise or lack of professionalism.

       

      Hopes for the Future.

      The future offers two distinct avenues for progress. One, entailing more 'atomistic' thinking, is the road presently travelled by the Developed World, where, to quote Professor Brown, (himself quoting a colleague), "there is only atoms; all the rest is social work". This route entails more science, reducing the atom to its bare components then recombining those parts thought to be needed to produce the desired result. Protagonists of this modern Western route would express hopes that more research will lead to the development of 'better vaccines', more rapid diagnostics, better differentiation technology and better technological aids to epidemiology.

      Advocates of the other approach, perhaps best summarised as 'holistic', would express the hope that new ways of looking at disease will develop -- whether as 'life-forms' with a function or destiny of their own, or as a means to preventing, ameliorating or curing stock (or people) of the disease in question. Thus, this school of thought would hope that research and development would lead to progress in techniques for increasing immunity -- carrots and kelp were recommended by a virus researcher in the Farmers Weekly on the 30th March 2001.

      New understandings of the role of Vitamins and Minerals, especially trace elements, may help with disease prevention. Homeopathy, and the astute observations of Homeopathic vets, may hold a key to prevention, whilst saline solution for the feet and mildly alcoholic wet mash for the mouth, followed by soft hay, perhaps fruit waste or chopped, cleaned roots (succulents) and Dexamethasine (anti-inflammatory) if available, provide, with good stockmanship, the caring response that most stockmen (around the world) would traditionally give their charges. A cure would be wonderful, and although widely held to be unlikely in the near future should nevertheless always be kept under review as Science progresses.

      I would recommend that we work with both 'streams' for three reasons:-

      1. The mainstream global trading situation will not now let us change easily- we have collectively 'invested' much in and thereby 'inherited' our Disease Free Status from the sacrifices of our forebears, not to be lightly thrown away.
      2. The Developing World still needs low-input, low-tech solutions -- if we can help them reduce the viral load in circulation we help both them and ourselves.
      3. Circumstances, like viruses, may change. We do not know what the future holds; climate change, the consequences of pollution, industrial or military actions may close or change traditional avenues of human endeavour. In addition, the consequence of the new recombinant technologies, of which we are still in the early years, may lead, either through genetic pollution, industrial or military actions to a scenario where newly-manufactured or naturally arising viruses or cross-species life-forms return us to the point where innately healthy, tough and resistant livestock become revalued or even essential - a return to some of the 'old values' remembered but sidelined by the intensification, industrialisation, and commodification of modern agriculture. It would therefore seem appropriate to harbour and protect as wide a section of our livestock's genetic base as possible (as Prince Charles has pointed out, a unique part of our collective heritage). Stock which showed, due to management or breeding, an ability to be untroubled by FMD in 2001 were destroyed -- yet they may have been the very stock we should most have secured. A different era may have different mores for different needs.

       

      Professor (F.) Brown, Margaret Beckett (Minister for Agriculture) and the Veterinary Record (149[22]: 29) have all expressed the hope that one day we may be able, through a concerted programme of vaccination and phyto-sanitary measures, to rid the world of FMD, much as Smallpox and Polio have been contained. Doubtless, we should work towards a reduction or even elimination of FMD globally, in all our interests -- but must always bear in mind the terrible danger to a totally naive population should such reappear (perhaps from a laboratory).

      We should also ascertain who (within the UK) would be most affected by a loss of exports -- embryo and semen exporters for example, and perhaps urge them to insure, should they so wish, against a loss of market arising were the country to implement an emergency vaccination programme.

      In the event of a future outbreak, we should revue our response through the 'green' measuring lens of ecological economics; an enforced domestic consumption of UK produce (with no WTO consequence) could be turned into an ecological, if not conventionally economic, benefit, allowing both a reduction in 'food miles' and also reintroducing UK consumers to some of our forgotten culinary assets, viz -- the 'light lamb' scheme, where restaurateurs ate 'light' (ie mountain) lamb in response to pleas from farmers, then discovered why the Continentals were so keen to buy them- the pure, sweet, tender flesh was of a gastronomic quality increasingly overlooked. Mutton, too, is set to make a comeback as less Organophosphate dips are used. We must never again allow the cure to be worse than the disease!

       

      My penultimate 'question', (No. 29), was rhetorical -- 'our responsibilities arising from our livestock are clearly defined, but our responsibilities to them are not mentioned, as if livestock are of no consequence other than economic. Is this attitude compatible with the 21st Century, and, if so, what does this tell us about ourselves '

      The 21st Century is young, but in 2001 the panicked response of the people who drove through the policy was more akin to a medieval witch-hunt than a rational scientific exercise in exotic animal disease control; certainly, for a nation of supposed animal-lovers, it was quite astonishing that the State should cull over 11,000,000 animals and so little fuss be made by the great British public -- who of course, did not and to this day do not know the true figures. A society whose leaders are prepared to do such and cover it up through dissembling and pressure on the media ('in the national interest') must be of concern to lovers of freedom everywhere. If such is a reflection of the century just begun then we have much to be concerned about.

      Alternatively, I hope that as the 21st Century progresses, mankind's' attitude towards our fellow mammals on Planet Earth, (including, essentially, one another), will come to embrace a wider sense of responsibility as we mature into our post-1960's awareness of the unique, beautiful fragility of our 'blue planet', and will progress from our former exploitative mentality into a greater understanding of our responsibilities to the creatures over whom we exercise such dominion, so that we turn to a more respectful 'stewardship' of those in our care, both to ensure the survival of our own species and of the Planet in something like its present form, enabling and ennobling our own further evolution from 'Homo Erectus' into 'Homo Sapiens'.

       

      CONCLUSION

       

      In this study I have listed the unanswered questions arising from the management of the 2001 FMD epidemic, leaving those I have not been able to deal with squarely posited either for future research or for Historical reference. I have examined the Contingency Plans in place both before and since the 2001 outbreak of FMD in the UK and Western Europe, have examined the hypothesis, and concluded that "an effective National animal disease strategy is dependent on frequent objective review, and the allocation of appropriate resources to carry out that strategy".

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

      APOLOGIA

       

      I apologise for lack of input data from the devolved administrations, (including in this category the Report of the Royal Society of Edinburgh), due both in part to pressure of time contra-indicating duplication of similar but subtly different material, but also as my (subjective) experience of the 2001 outbreak was as a farmer in England. The struggle to keep my stock alive and the successful effort to save some of their progeny inevitably gave and continues to give myself an Anglo-centric focus on events.

       

       

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      APPENDICES

       

      Appendix 1

      Recorded Instances of FMD arising from Laboratory escape, improperly inactivated, or contaminated Vaccine .

       

      UK. January 1960, Outbreak of SAT escaped from Animal Virus Research Institute, Pirbright , source Northumberland Report page 36.

       

      Plum Island, U.S.A., 1978. According to Dr. Pat Doyle's 'Emerging Diseases' website. Stock Incinerated on site, terrain disinfected, etc.

       

      UK, Isle of Wight, 1981. see King et al. (1981) Biochemical identification of viruses causing the 1981 outbreaks of foot and mouth disease in the UK. Nature.293: 479-80

      Cause shown to be Lausanne strain of Serotype O as used in commercial vaccines.

       

      Germany, 1988, vaccine virus used in a lab nearby to the outbreak. (Knowles et al., 1988) .and

       

      Italy, 1980's, outbreaks 'shown to be caused by viruses identical to the Italian vaccine strains' (Knowles and Samuel 1990). The above two from Kitching, R.P. (1992) The Application of Biotechnology to the control of Foot-And- Mouth Disease Virus, British Veterinary Journal, 148: 380,385

       

      Russia, Valeri Zakharov , (Lyons 2002) said --

      June 1993,Vladimir region, Spasskov, A22 escaped from the All Russian Research Institute for Animal Health, (ARRIAH), FMD vaccine production facility, leading to stamping out plus ring vaccination. Now vaccine is manufactured close to China where it is endemic.

       

      South Africa 2000. "11th September 2000 virus escaped from a FMD test facility (Grietje 6) attempting to breed FMD disease free animals. Virus defined as Serotype SAT 1, 3rd October stamping out policy started, 1st December 2000 zone vaccination began", plus ring vaccination; sero-surveillance discovered virus types SAT 1 and O present (Dobson 2002).

       

      South America, 1960's, see Sutmoller, P. and Casas Alascoaga, R. (2002) Unapparent foot and mouth disease infection (sub-clinical infections and carriers): implications for control. In OIE Sci. Tech. Rev. 21(3) Dec 2002. Ed by G.R. Thomson, Paris: 519-530

       

      Taiwan, 1997/1999. See Sutmoller and Casas Alascoaga, (2002), above.

       

       

       

      Appendix 2. 'Who drove the policy', Carriers, vaccines, and a Promise

       

      Time and space constraints require that I abbreviate plans to include Appendices on Carriers, Vaccination, the Consequences of the failures of the Contingency Plans, and the 'Alternative' history of the Epidemic, (the protestors, survivors, et al.), the latter two of which will have to be recounted elsewhere .

       

      However, this work would be incomplete without raising the several points below.

       

      'Who drove the policy'

       

      Initially, the virus, inertia and the NFU; then, as Local and General Elections loomed, political panic, and those who could assuage it, prevailed; furthermore, recent memories of a bruising international humiliation at the hands of the so-called 'Farmers For Action' fuel protest (which had brought the country almost to a standstill) left the Prime Minister in no mood for further confrontation with farmers; thus the ascendancy of the "very fashionable" computer models, based on "a total suspension of common sense" (Dr. Kitching, in Munro 2003: 4), but which offered the promise of 'resolving the problem' in time for the Elections.

       

      Dr Sumption has pointed out (Queen Elizabeth 2nd Conference Centre, 13/6/01) that were the virus as contagious as the Model presumed, then Heddon-on-the-Wall, (the Index case), unreported for perhaps a couple of weeks, should have 'taken out' the whole of the North-East of England; that it did not do so should have been sufficient to abort the Contiguous and 3-Km culls; by the 16th March the controls were working, the Contiguous and 3-Km culls unnecessary. As Dr. Kitching said, on Radio and in interview, " we should have retained confidence in our vets, that is what the State Veterinary Service is for".

       

      Who saw off vaccination The relatively small-scale usage intended for bovines in Cumbria and possibly Devon, regarded by some as little more than a weak political sop, was seen off by the Food and Drink Federation, whose Chairman, Peter Blackburn, was also Chairman of Nestles (UK). Nestles, (joined by Cadburys), feared potential loss of international markets for (powdered milk and) chocolate, were they to use milk from vaccinated cows. They also feared for their own jobs, as approximately half of their number had recently been laid off by order of their Head Office in Switzerland, (according to Barry Wilson of 'British Dairying' magazine [verbal communication, Queen Elizabeth 2nd Conference Centre, 13/6/01]).

       

      "Mr. Blair and his ministers were convinced of the scientific and social need for vaccination as early as March 30th but were unable to persuade the industry and Nestle to change their minds. When their advanced plan fell apart because of opposition, the ministers chose to blame the farmers for not accepting vaccination and played down the influence the food industry had over their decision" (Vidal and Hetherington 2001).

       

      Thus UK policy was determined by the Executives of a company answerable primarily to their Shareholders, but not the UK electorate!

       

       

      Carriers.

       

      Similarly, to fail to mention the following would be unthorough. On page 28 of the Northumberland Report (Part1), the Duke states that the ' consensus of opinion among our scientific witnesses was that the danger of carrier animals had been exaggerated and that carriers in a susceptible population did not constitute a significant risk. In this context we quote the European Commission for the Control of Foot-and-Mouth Disease who have stated that "from the material that has been collected and surveyed it would seem that only in exceptional cases are recovered animals able to transmit foot-and-mouth disease and therefore would seem to play a very small role in the epizootiology of the disease"'.

       

      I appreciate that 'low-risk' is not 'no-risk' but raise it as a useful reference.

       

       

      Vaccines.

       

      On Tuesday November 28th 1967, the Guardian Leader published an article "Indecision on foot and mouth" which stated " the Ministry sticks to the policy of stamping out the disease by slaughter rather than treat it by vaccines and accept it as endemic". As Alan Beat says, (Allender 2002: 148) "Vaccination does not mean acceptance that FMD has become endemic in the UK" -- it is merely a weapon in the armoury (like slaughter) for ridding the country of an incursion.

       

      A Promise to be kept.

       

      On 'Farming Today', (BBC, Radio 4) on the 27th of March 2001, the Prime Minister, Tony Blair, stated that farmers are the 'Guardians of the Countryside' and that 'at the end of the Epizootic we would "rebuild a sustainable future" in a spirit of partnership'. The BBC tapes may now be lost, but this 'minute', and the memory, are not, and may serve as a record should such be required.

       

       

      Finally, the virus adapts to survive. We should learn from it objective review should cover not just pistols and ammunition but developments in the all the fields of human endeavour, in order to provide the best response to the Contingency, which may or may not be the old tried, tested and (by many yardsticks), failed practices of yesteryear.

       

       

       

       

      Christockdale@aol.com