- Annex A - General legislation
- Annex B - Veterinary guidance for initial action on suspect cases
- Annex C - Decision Tree for disease control strategies against FMD
- Annex D - Disease control (Slaughter) protocol
- Annex E - Emergency vaccination arrangements
- Annex F - Diagram showing protection zone and surveillance zone
- Annex G - Veterinary risk assessment
- Annex H - Protocol for restrictions on public rights of way and access to open country, in the event of an outbreak of Foot and Mouth or similar animal diseases
Animal Health Act 1981
- The Animal Health Act 1981 provides the powers for the control of Foot and Mouth Disease.
- The FMD Order 1983 (together with amendments), made under the Animal Health Act 1981 provides for the following measures:
- entry to premises for the purpose of veterinary inquiry;
- slaughter of affected, suspected or exposed animals;
- seizure and control of affected carcases and things;
- cleansing and disinfection of premises, vehicles and people;
- movement controls on people, animals and vehicles;
- slaughter (and payment of compensation) of animals on welfare grounds
arising as a result of movement controls; • other controls in Infected, Restricted and Controlled areas.
Animal Health Act 2002
- The Animal Health Act 2002 amended the Animal Health Act 1981 and supplemented the existing powers under the Animal Health Act 1981 by allowing animals to be slaughtered wherever this is necessary to prevent the spread of disease.
- However, the 2002 Act amendments required the Secretary of State to publish the reasons for using this preventive slaughter power, prior to exercising it. Emergency vaccination would have to be considered prior to any preventive slaughter powers, and, if not used, the reasons would have to be published.
- The 2002 Act amendments allow vaccinated animals to be slaughtered and requires compensation of market value for such animals to be paid. The Act now provides for the publication and annual review of this Contingency Plan and also requires the publication of Biosecurity guidance. It strengthens enforcement powers, including improved powers of entry to farms; requires reasonable assistance for the purposes of slaughter, vaccination and testing; and increases penalties.
- In 2001, the legal basis for the control of FMD across the EU was Council Directive 85/511. However, this will shortly be replaced by Council Directive 2003/85/EC, which was adopted in September 2003. This Directive updates measures contained in previous Directives, taking into account scientific progress and experience gained in eradicating the disease in the EU in 2001. The Directive has to be transposed into domestic legislation in all EU Member States during 2004. It sets out minimum control measures Member States must take against FMD and allows stricter measures to be taken if the disease
- situation requires it. It requires rapid action to be taken as soon as disease is suspected, including movement controls.
- The ban on prophylactic (routine) vaccination, which has been in place across the EU since 1992, is maintained in the new Directive. Under both 85/511 and the new Directive, the required basic disease control policy is the slaughter of all susceptible animals on premises infected with FMD and those identified as “dangerous contacts”.
- The new Directive gives greater prominence to the potential use of emergency vaccination in the event of an outbreak as an adjunct to this slaughter policy and requires Member States “to prepare all arrangements necessary for emergency vaccination in an area at least the size of the Surveillance Zone” as soon as the first case of FMD is confirmed.
- Other features of the new Directive include:
- provision for the adoption of “special measures” (including possible emergency vaccination and derogation from slaughter) to be applied in zoos, wildlife parks and to allow the conservation of “farm animal genetic resources”; and
- details of the treatments for meat and meat products and milk and milk products from animals from the Protection, Surveillance and Vaccination Zones. Such treatments include heat treatment and deboning and maturation of meat and pasteurisation of milk.
ANNEX B VETERINARY GUIDANCE FOR INITIAL ACTION ON SUSPECT CASES
LEVEL OF SUSPICION IMMEDIATE ACTION Level 0 – disease not suspected All restrictions on premises lifted, no following veterinary inquiry. further action. Level 1 – lesions and clinical Suspect animal(s) left alive and disease not typical – but disease observed. Samples taken for cannot be ruled out entirely on laboratory diagnosis. Form A clinical grounds. premises restrictions enforced. Form C area restrictions imposed. Level 2 - lesions and clinical disease suggestive of FMD but not entirely convincing. Suspect animal(s) showing lesions slaughtered on suspicion. Samples submitted for laboratory diagnosis. Form A premises restrictions enforced. Form C area restrictions imposed. Level 3 - veterinary staff on farm and at HQ believe from investigation on clinical grounds that disease exists. All susceptible livestock on the premises slaughtered on suspicion. Samples submitted for laboratory diagnosis. Form A premises restrictions enforced. Form C area restrictions imposed. Level 4 - as at level 3 plus disease already confirmed in the country or substantial evidence that disease may have entered the country for example disease in imported animals originating from a region with confirmed FMD Disease confirmed on clinical grounds only without awaiting laboratory results. Samples submitted for laboratory diagnosis. Form A premises restrictions enforced. Form C area restrictions imposed. All susceptible livestock on the premises slaughtered. Dangerous contacts traced and slaughtered depending on veterinary assessment.
DECISION TREE FOR DISEASE CONTROL STRATEGIES AGAINST FMD
DISEASE CONTROL STRATEGIES: FOOT AND MOUTH DISEASE (FMD DECISION TREE)
- This paper outlines the measures that may be taken to slaughter or vaccinate animals in the event of an outbreak of foot and mouth disease (FMD). It sets out the factors the Government will take into account in deciding which strategy to adopt in order to control and eradicate the disease in the future.
- The new EU Council Directive on FMD, requires slaughter of all susceptible animals on infected premises, and provides for culling of susceptible animals on epidemiologically linked holdings (known as dangerous contacts). This reflects the EU's policy of adopting "FMD free without vaccination" status for all Member States, and is provided for in Defra's FMD Contingency plan.
- Beyond this basic strategy, which will apply in all cases, there are a range of additional options and strategies potentially available depending on the circumstances of a particular outbreak and on the scientific and veterinary advice. Section 14B of the Animal Health Act 1981 (as amended) requires the Secretary of State to consider what is the most appropriate means of preventing the spread of disease, in particular the use of vaccination. The new FMD Directive has also moved emergency vaccination to the forefront of disease control strategies. The range of options includes: -
- culling of other livestock exposed to the disease (e.g. premises under virus plumes, contiguous premises); and,
- emergency vaccination (either to live or to kill; within an area or in a ring around an area);
- pre-emptive or ‘firebreak’ culling of animals which are not on infected premises nor are dangerous contacts nor are necessarily exposed to the disease, in order to prevent the wider spread of the disease outwith an area.
- Since each disease outbreak is different and each has to be tackled at speed and – inevitably – with imperfect information it is not possible to prescribe in detail which strategy will be followed in advance of knowing the circumstances of a particular outbreak. This calls for a flexible approach, which recognises that different approaches may be needed in different geographical areas or to deal with different species. Nevertheless, there is clear advantage in reaching a view on the likely options for response in advance. Accordingly, this paper and the enclosed “decision tree” seeks to set out:
- The factors that would be taken into account in deciding whether to use emergency vaccination and if so whether to vaccinate to live or kill.
- The factors that would be taken into account in deciding slaughter policy.
- The Government’s objective in tackling any fresh outbreaks of FMD will be to eradicate the disease as quickly as possible and to maintain the UK’s disease-free status. In doing so, the Government will seek to select a control strategy which:
- causes the least possible disruption to the food, farming and tourism industries, to visitors to the countryside, and to rural communities and the wider economy;
- minimises the number of animals which need to be slaughtered, either to control the disease or on welfare grounds, and which keeps animal welfare problems to a minimum;
- minimises damage to the environment and protects public health;
- minimises the burden on taxpayers and the public at large.
- In responding to the FMD Inquiries the Government has made clear that where measures additional to the culling of infected animals and dangerous contacts are needed, emergency vaccination will be considered as part of the control strategy. The Government also accepts that if emergency vaccination is used it should be on the basis of vaccinate-to-live wherever possible.
- EU legislation allows for the use of emergency vaccination in circumstances where an outbreak of FMD threatens to become extensive in the Member State concerned; where other Member States are at risk due to the geographical situation or prevailing meteorological conditions; where other Member States are at risk due to epidemiologically relevant contacts; and in Member States at risk due to geographical situation or meteorological conditions in a neighbouring third country. The new Directive also requires a Member State to prepare all arrangements deemed necessary for emergency vaccination in an area at least the size of the Surveillance Zone (10km centred on an outbreak) immediately the first outbreak is confirmed.
- The decision to introduce emergency vaccination is normally taken by the European Commission in consultation with Member States in the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health, although Member States can vaccinate and then seek the EU’s agreement later. Two types of vaccination strategy are envisaged:
- "Protective Vaccination" (Vaccination to live)
- "Suppressive Vaccination" (Vaccination to kill)
- The Inquiries investigated in detail the issues involved in employing emergency vaccination. Between them they highlighted a range of significant
questions that would need to be addressed, particularly as regards vaccination to live, but concluded that once these were resolved, the option of emergency vaccination to live should be the preferred approach. The Government is committed to tackling these issues in consultation with all interested parties so that it is in a position to trigger an emergency vaccination campaign should the need arise. As part of this process it is essential to have stakeholder support and the Government has engaged in dialogue with a wide range of stakeholders in order to achieve, so far as possible, a shared understanding in advance of an outbreak of the factors which influence the choice of control options. The Decision Tree is intended to assist this process.
Protective Vaccination (Vaccination to live)
10. This strategy would be considered:-
- where veterinary and scientific advice is that an outbreak could not be contained by stamping out of Infected Premises and Dangerous Contacts alone;
- where a defined category of animals could be identified for protection, either in geographical or species terms; this could include pet or sanctuary animals within a vaccination zone;
- to protect, where appropriate, zoo animals and rare breeds collections as recommended by the Royal Society and provided for under the FMD Directive. The Directive also extends special measures to animals in wildlife parks and laboratories.
11. Section 8 of the Directive deals with the issue of emergency vaccination, including the factors to be considered and the conditions under which vaccination should be carried out. Criteria to be taken into account when a Member State is considering introducing protective vaccination and guidelines for emergency vaccination programmes are set out in Annex X of the Directive and include: population density of susceptible animals, predominant species clinically affected; predicted airborne spread of virus; availability of suitable vaccine; origin, incidence slope and distribution of outbreaks; public reaction to stamping out policy and acceptance of regionalisation after vaccination. The guidelines also indicate that emergency vaccination should be considered if it is foreseeable that the targets of culling infected animals within 24 hours of confirmation and dangerous contacts within 48 hours cannot be met for two consecutive days. However, such criteria can only ever be indicative rather than prescriptive. Veterinary/epidemiological judgement will remain a key factor in determining the most effective disease control policy in any set of circumstances.
Suppressive Vaccination (Vaccinate to kill)
12. This strategy could be considered where the number of animals to be culled is likely to exceed the available disposal capacity. In those instances, animals in defined areas would be vaccinated first and slaughtered only as disposal capacity became available. It could also be used where there is an urgent need to reduce the amount of virus circulating in an area and reduce the risk of spread beyond that area. The Directive requires that suppressive vaccination is only carried out within a Protection Zone, that is normally within 3km of an infected premises. This requirement does not mean that all vaccinated animals in a PZ will be slaughtered; it may only be some within this area.
STAMPING OUT POLICY
- The FMD Directive lays down the minimum measures Member States must take against FMD. The Directive requires slaughter of all susceptible animals on infected premises, and provides for culling of susceptible animals on epidemiologically linked holdings, as well as culling of susceptible animals on holdings where FMD is suspected.
- Legislation in England and Wales allows for slaughter of:
- Animals affected or suspected of being affected with FMD.
- Animals in the same place or in contact with animals affected or suspected of being affected with FMD.
- Animals which are believed to have been exposed to FMD infection.
- Animals to prevent the spread of FMD e.g. a 'firebreak' cull.
Animals affected or suspected of being affected
- When the State Veterinary Service (SVS) is made aware of suspicion of foot and mouth disease in animals they will arrange for a veterinary investigation to be undertaken.
- The decision to slaughter will be based either on the results of laboratory tests carried out on samples arising from animals suspected of being affected with disease, or on clinical evidence of disease. In an area considered to be free of disease, except in exceptional circumstances, it is likely that disease will be confirmed on laboratory results. However, once disease has become established in an area it is likely that cases will be confirmed on clinical grounds alone in order to ensure animals are slaughtered quickly. However, samples will be taken to aid the epidemiological inquiries. All susceptible animals on an infected place will normally be slaughtered.
Animals which are believed to have been exposed to infection
- Animals may be slaughtered if they are believed to have been exposed to infection. In these cases, animals will be subject to a veterinary inquiry to determine if, in the opinion of the Veterinary Inspector, they have been exposed. In making this judgement the Veterinary Inspector may take account of national information from experts that animals in certain areas have been exposed.
- Animals that are believed to have been exposed to infection are known as Dangerous Contacts. This can include animals on contiguous premises. As virus can be excreted by such animals prior to the development of obvious and identifiable clinical signs, it is important that they are culled as soon as possible to stop virus production and hence spread of disease. A decision to slaughter will be taken by the veterinary inspector based on information gathered during the inquiry
(e.g. geographical, epidemiological) and account will be taken of levels of biosecurity. The action that we take will depend on a risk assessment. Where it is believed that the likelihood is that exposed animals are at a high risk of becoming diseased they will be slaughtered. Where that risk is lower and there are the resources to observe the animals, they will be restricted and observed. So our action depends not only on the degree of risk but our ability to mitigate the risk by having available the necessary resources to observe animals regularly and our ability to detect early disease in exposed animals and take immediate action should disease occur.
19. Animals can be exposed to infection by many routes. The following list is not exhaustive and the relative importance of each will depend on a number of factors:
- Direct contact with infected animals
b. Airborne Spread c. Movement of a live animal d. Movement of a person e. Movement of vehicles f. Movement of equipment or other materials g. Movement of animal products h. Movement of feedstuffs or bedding i. Movement by wildlife or non-susceptible vector
More details of relevant factors for each are given in Annex B.
To prevent the spread of disease
- A third type of slaughter policy is “to prevent the spread of disease”, e.g. to create a ‘firebreak’. Such a cull might be required in order to protect areas of high livestock density, either as an addition to emergency vaccination or, in some cases, instead of it. The species and geographical area of the cull would have to be carefully assessed. Use of this power is described by a Disease Control (Slaughter) Protocol as required by the Animal Health Act 1981 as amended. The Protocol identifies the criteria to be considered and procedures to be followed should it be considered necessary to call on this power.
- The Government intends to use the new slaughter powers only where this is justified by the level of risk of the disease spreading and on the basis of sound veterinary, epidemiological and scientific advice. Vaccination would have been considered first and if not used the reasons would be published.
- Any decision to use these wider powers of slaughter would be taken in the light of an overall assessment of the risks, costs and benefits in a given situation. This could include not only risks of transmission but also social and economic risks that would arise if effective and timely action were not taken. The Government would justify its decision to use the slaughter powers, explaining the veterinary, epidemiological and other relevant factors that had been taken into account.
DEFRA’s FOOT AND MOUTH DISEASE CONTINGENCY PLAN
DECISION TREE FOR CONTROL STRATEGIES FOR FMD Note: Start at top left decision - diamond box number 1
FMD DECISION TREE - FACTORS TO BE CONSIDERED
Each decision on the tree is taken on the basis of a number of factors. The decision matrix has been based on a USDA paper but has been adapted to take account of the fact that any disease control strategy in the UK must take account of the relevant EU and domestic legal framework.
In using the decision tree, the following factors should be taken into account at each decision point. Modelling – economic & epidemiological – will be used to assist in identifying trigger points. The Government accepted the recommendation of the UK Lessons Learned Inquiry to undertake a cost-benefit analysis of different FMD control strategies. The results from this are due towards the end of 2004 and will help inform decisions concerning disease control strategies in a future outbreak.
At decision box 1: can disease be eradicated by stamping out alone (of Infected Premises and Dangerous Contacts)?
All outbreak and mitigation factors need to be considered at this point in deciding whether stamping out alone will eradicate the disease. However at the start of an outbreak information on many of these factors will be incomplete and this may not be available until well into the outbreak. Decisions may need to be revisited as more information becomes available.
1. Outbreak factors
- Time from introduction of infection to detection (epidemiology);
- Contact rate: type of farms; direct and indirect movement and distance of movement; efficacy of movement controls;
- Host or species affected – the species affected and species at risk (manifestation of clinical signs leading to early recognition): domestic livestock only – whether disease is in pigs, cattle or sheep; game farms/zoos – how effective would isolation methods be; wildlife.
- Status of outbreak – estimation of the extent of the geographical distribution of FMD and duration of epidemic: number of affected herds; number of foci of infection; rate of spread. Use of epidemiological models.
- Environmental: livestock density and distribution; livestock management; standards of biosecurity; casual access – network of roads, etc; physical barriers.
- Climate – does it favour airborne spread?
- Physical resources: slaughter capacity; transportation capacity; disposal capacity. Incineration - max 1500 tonnes per week. Rendering - max 15,000 tonnes per week (Combined weekly capacity before licensed landfill or on-farm disposal options would need to be considered is 16,500 tonnes which is equivalent to approximately 33,000 cattle, or 330,000 sheep or 165,000 pigs).
- Human resources: emergency response system i.e. are there sufficiently trained staff for stamping out and to maintain movement controls; what are the epidemic projections? Defra’s Contingency Plan identifies the resources needed to deal with an outbreak of FMD.
- Socio-political factors: The EU FMD Directive requires slaughter of all susceptible animals on Infected Premises and provides for culling of susceptible animals on epidemiologically linked holdings (known as Dangerous Contacts); public opinion; industry acceptance; other affected sectors e.g. tourism.
- Economic considerations: compensation; value of exports and value of other affected sectors e.g. tourism.
Decision Box 2: is emergency vaccination possible?
2. Physical resources to be considered:
- Vaccine strain availability – Is there a vaccine available? The UK has its own stocks of 8 different FMD antigen strains held, on its behalf, by a commercial supplier. In addition, the EU Vaccine Bank holds a range of antigens for emergency use.
- Number of vaccine doses available – Doses available vary depending on the strains. (Defra is keeping the availability of strains and quantities under review).
- Emergency vaccination strategy i.e. ring or firebreak vaccination – the strategy would depend on factors such as the virulence of the strain, number of foci of infection, density and species of livestock in likely vaccination zone, etc. Arrangements for a process of prior registration of zoos and rare breeds for possible emergency vaccination in a future outbreak are currently being developed.
- Vaccination logistics – this will be covered by the SVS operational field instructions. To comply with the UK Marketing Authorisation for FMD vaccines, a second dose would be required 3-4 weeks after the first dose. However, the need for a second inoculation or a booster will depend on the length of time that active disease is present. Where the policy is vaccinate-to-slaughter a 1-dose strategy is more likely to be used. (In an emergency, Article 8 of Directive 2001/82 /EC would provisionally allow the use of FMD vaccines which do not have UK Marketing Authorisations (MAs) in the absence of a suitable medicinal product and after informing the Commission of the detailed conditions of use.)
- Vaccine distribution – vaccine would be procured centrally and distributed to field vaccination teams via regional vaccination centres.
• Laboratory capacity/ability to distinguish vaccinates from infected – Laboratory capacity exists to undertake testing. However, there are currently no internationally recognised standards for NSP testing. There are a variety of NSP tests at differing levels of validation and a number of NSP tests are commercially available. These tests are being evaluated at IAH, Pirbright to inform the Government on best currently available NSP test to hold as a contingency reserve. The Government accepts that the validation of NSP (non-structural protein) tests is a key area. There are currently a number of research projects in the UK, Europe and America and many of the European groups are partners in a European Union Concerted Action project on FMD diagnosis. The main limiting factor for the validation of such tests is the availability of suitable panels of sera, especially from vaccinated and then challenged animals. Defra is supporting research into this area. In addition, the Government also accepts that there is a need to develop accepted strategies for surveillance after vaccination. This is something that the OIE has under consideration.
• Time – Whether there would be enough time for vaccination to be completed before spread of infection would depend on the epidemiological projections during the outbreak. Need for modelling input.
- Human resources to be considered:
- Emergency response system – need to have sufficient numbers of vaccinators available. At present there are 50 fully trained vaccination teams (each consisting of 1 vaccinator, 1 ear tag reader and 1 recorder) available and operationally capable of vaccinating on day 5 of an outbreak. Some 25 vets have also been recruited to support this initial response team. Current arrangements also provide for these numbers to be ramped up within 4/5 days of notification to meet the needs of any reasonable disease scenario. There are also human resource implications in carrying out NSP testing of all vaccinated herds/flocks and in the establishment of a vaccination surveillance area.
- Movement controls are a recognised part of any UK control strategy. Specific restrictions will apply on movement of vaccinated animals and products from vaccinated animals within the vaccination zone as laid down by the EU Directive. There will be welfare considerations in establishing a vaccination zone. Need sufficient staff to monitor movement controls. There will also be a vaccination surveillance zone of at least 10km around a protective vaccination zone.
- Epidemic projections – different for each outbreak.
- Socio-political factors to be considered:
- Stakeholders – a communications plan is in place. Active engagement with stakeholders has highlighted the role of the FSA advice on safety.
- Available legislation – Powers to vaccinate against FMD are available. The AHA 1981 as amended by the AHA 2002 provides enhanced powers of entry for emergency vaccination of susceptible animals. Any decision to carry out emergency vaccination would have to be agreed by the EU. Parallel OIE rules need also to be considered.
- Industry opinion – Stakeholders to be kept involved in developments connected with the issue of vaccination i.e. FMD Directive, changes to the OIE Code, implications for the resumption of trade. Stakeholder involvement (should be all-inclusive) and agreement would be important in any decision to vaccinate.
5. Economic considerations to be considered:
- Cost of vaccination – as part of its contingency planning, against a future outbreak of FMD, the UK has purchased a range of antigens. Additional costs would be those of formulating the vaccine from the antigen, or of acquiring vaccine if the strain was not one held. The cost of vaccination equipment, training and employing staff as part of a vaccination campaign also needs to be costed into the equation.
- Value of exports – the extended period in which exports would be restricted would need to be weighed against the benefit to wider rural economy and tourism from killing and disposing of fewer animals.
- Regionalisation – would be required under the FMD Directive where the outbreak threatens to become extensive or if emergency vaccination is used. The Directive sets out the controls that would apply within a regionalised zone.
Decision Box 3: is the exit strategy “vaccinate to live”?
- Physical resources to be considered:
- Slaughter capacity – vaccinate to live is likely to reduce pressure on slaughter capacity whereas vaccinate to slaughter might lead to higher numbers for slaughter than a stamping out policy (the Dutch experience). Capacity would need to be able to cope with slaughter of vaccinates and slaughter of infected livestock in a vaccinate-to-slaughter scenario.
- Disposal capacity – The higher numbers generated by a vaccinate to slaughter policy may result in disposal becoming a limiting factor. A vaccinate to live policy would help alleviate disposal problems.
- Controls on products from vaccinated animals - Under EU rules, products from vaccinates would need to be kept separate from non-vaccinates. The FMD Directive sets out the post vaccination controls that would be required following emergency vaccination.
- Time – If a vaccinate to slaughter policy was followed it would be more cost-effective to cull after the first inoculation. See Box 2 criteria on physical resources.
- Identification: additional, permanent and indelible identification of vaccinated livestock is required under the new FMD Directive so that either one can ensure that products from vaccinates are correctly treated (in the case of a vaccinate-to-live policy) or all vaccinates are killed (in the event of a vaccinate to kill policy being implemented). Call-off contracts are being put in place to purchase plastic button ear tags to identify vaccinated animals.
Human resources to be considered:
• Emergency response system – Current and future arrangements for delivery of a vaccination programme take account of the need to implement a vaccinate to live strategy which, by implication, may require 2 or more doses to be administered. For a vaccinate to
slaughter policy, we would need to consider whether we had the
necessary staff i.e. slaughtermen. Intensified surveillance will be
carried out in the 10km area (vaccination surveillance area)
surrounding the vaccination zone.
• Epidemic projections. As above.
- Socio-political factors to be considered:
- Available legislation – The AHA allows for emergency vaccination as does the FMD Directive. The AHA allows for the slaughter of vaccinates and for payment of compensation for vaccinated animals which are compulsorily slaughtered. The FMD Directive explicitly provides for the option of suppressive vaccination i.e. vaccination to kill, as well as protective vaccination i.e.. vaccination to live. The Government has made clear its preference for protective vaccination.
- Public opinion – Public are likely to support a vaccinate to live policy and this would be in line with Follett and Anderson Inquiry recommendations. FSA advice is that labelling of vaccinated products would not be required.
- Industry acceptance –possible pressure from trade, and other Member States, to slaughter vaccinates to regain FMD free status. Currently engaging with industry stakeholders.
- Economic considerations to be considered:
- Cost of vaccinate to slaughter – include the costs of vaccination (Box 4) plus the cost of slaughter and disposal of all vaccinates.
- FMD free status – this can be regained 3 months earlier where suppressive vaccination is used. However, there are other economic considerations that will need to be taken into account in a full cost benefit analysis (see earlier decision boxes).
- Compensation – Cost of compensation for slaughtered vaccinates would substantially increase overall costs of epidemic.
- Value of exports versus benefit to wider rural economy.
- Regionalisation – As for Box 2.
At decision box 4: are there additional culling strategies that are appropriate to the circumstances?
In some circumstances culling additional to DCs and IPs may be the optimal solution based on a risk assessment. This culling could take a number of forms – contiguous premises (where these are judged to have been exposed to infection) or preventive culling where scientific and veterinary advice is that this will prevent further spread of disease outwith the area. In choosing between these and other additional forms of culling a number of factors will need to be taken into account:
10. Socio-political factors to be considered:
- Available legislation – The Animal Health Act 1981 (as amended) provides the necessary powers including the power to slaughter preemptively in order to stop the spread of the disease. The AHA places a duty on the Secretary of State to consider emergency vaccination before using the pre-emptive slaughter powers. The FMD Directive also provides for a preventive cull.
- Public & industry opinion - contiguous and 3km culls were controversial aspects of FMD 2001.
11. Economic considerations to be considered:
- compensation – additional culling may significantly increase the amount paid in compensation.
- value of exports & other economic costs particularly in the wider countryside and for tourism. There are extra costs involved in additional culling.
- Regionalisation – this is provided for by the FMD Directive.
At decision box 5: are resources available for additional culling strategies?
A limiting factor is whether adequate resources exist to accommodate the anticipated number of additional livestock in addition to those slaughtered under stamping out.
12. Physical resources to be considered:
- slaughter capacity – does the capacity exist to slaughter animals both under the stamping out policy and additional culling;
- transportation capacity – does the transport capacity exist to remove animals from farm for disposal under an additional culling scenario;
- disposal capacity - does the capacity exist to dispose of animals under the stamping out policy and additional culling in environmentally acceptable ways;
- time i.e. are there sufficient resources to accommodate additional culling before such livestock develop FMD; identification of all premises included in an additional cull.
13. Human resources to be considered:
- emergency response system i.e. are there sufficiently trained staff to carry out an additional culling policy without adversely impacting on other key control policies i.e. enforcing movement controls, etc;
- what are the epidemic projections – epidemiological modelling of high risk groups.
- Identification of all premises included in an additional cull.
SOME OF THE ROUTES BY WHICH ANIMALS CAN BE EXPOSED TO INFECTION
a. Direct contact with infected animals
1. Infection is rapidly and efficiently passed from an infected animal to an uninfected, susceptible animal by direct contact between the animals. When establishing if animals have been exposed to infection following direct contact with an infected live animal, the following factors will be taken into account:
i. Physical nature of barrier between infected animal and susceptible uninfected animal.
ii. Distance between animals.
iii. Nature of the contact between animals.
iv. Amount of virus excretion.
b. Airborne Spread
2. Virus can be exhaled by an infected animal. The virus may be carried on air currents to susceptible, uninfected stock. The greatest risk of infection will be to stock on premises that are close to an IP though under certain circumstances more distant premises, possibly some distance away, may also be considered to have been exposed by such a route. (This is different to the culling to prevent the spread of disease that is covered in paragraph 25). When establishing if animals have been exposed to infection following airborne spread of virus the following factors will be taken into account:
i. Species of infected animals.
ii. Species of uninfected, susceptible animals.
iii. Pathogenicity and virulence of the viral strain.
- Prevailing wind direction during the period when animals on the IP are considered to have been excreting virus in exhaled air.
v. Distance between the infected and uninfected animals.
vi. Environmental conditions that could contribute to virus survival,
e.g. temperature and humidity.
vii. Likelihood of release of airborne virus, e.g. nature of housing or measures to control air outlets from housed livestock.
viii. Likelihood of exposure to the airborne virus. e.g. nature of housing or measures to control air supply to livestock.
c. Movement of a live animal
- Before disease is suspected and subsequently confirmed on a premises it is possible that an animal could, quite legitimately, have moved off that premises. Although disease had not been suspected, it is possible that disease was present when that animal moved off the premises. If that animal was itself infected it could infect other susceptible livestock at any time after leaving the premises.
- When establishing if animals have been exposed to infection following the movement of a live animal, the following factors will be taken into account:
i. Likelihood the animal could have taken infection from the IP.
ii. Nature of contact with susceptible uninfected animals. (See (a) above.)
d. Movement of a person
5. A person moving from a premises where infection was present could transmit infective material on their skin, hair, clothes or footwear. When establishing if animals have been exposed to infection following the movement of a person, the following factors will be taken into account:
i. Likelihood that the person could have taken infection from the IP.
ii. Nature of biosecurity measures on leaving the IP and before any contact with susceptible uninfected animals.
iii. Likelihood the person could have introduced infection to susceptible uninfected animals.
e. Movement of vehicles
6. Vehicles could carry infection from a premises where infection was present to other premises where susceptible livestock are present. Such vehicles could include:
i. Livestock transports.
ii. Vehicle moving between livestock under the same ownership.
iii. Vehicles collecting agricultural products, e.g. milk, wool etc.
- Vehicle delivering agricultural products e.g. feed, fertiliser, fuel etc.
v. Vehicle delivering non-agricultural products, e.g. post.
vi. Vehicle bringing persons etc for working on the premises.
7. The infective material could be carried anywhere on or in the vehicle. When establishing if animals have been exposed to infection following a vehicle movement, the following factors will be taken into account:
i. The nature of the contact with infected animals or materials from infected animals.
ii. Whether there was any cleansing and disinfection of the vehicle after contact with infected animals or materials and before contact with uninfected susceptible livestock.
iii. Whether the conditions during the journey would have rendered the virus non-viable.
iv. The nature of the contact with susceptible uninfected animals.
f. Movement of equipment or other materials
8. Equipment or other materials used on a premises where infection was present could carry infective material to susceptible, uninfected animals. Such equipment could range widely, from large feed mixers to thermometers. In establishing if animals have been exposed to infection following movement of equipment the following factors will be taken into account:
i. The nature of the contact between the item and infected animals.
ii. The nature of the contact between the item and susceptible, uninfected animals.
iii. Whether there was any cleansing and disinfection of the item.
g. Movement of animal products
9. Products from infected animals could contain viable virus that could infect susceptible, uninfected animals. Such products include milk, slurry, manure, meat, carcases (see also scavenging at (j) below). When establishing if animals have been exposed to infection following any movement of animal products the following factors will be taken into account:
i. Likelihood that the product contains viable virus.
ii. Effectiveness of any treatment undertaken before it leaves the IP or before it comes into contact with uninfected susceptible animals.
iii. Interval between removal of product and contact with the susceptible, uninfected animals.
h. Movement of feedstuffs or bedding
10. Products from infected animals could contaminate forages, feedstuffs and bedding materials with viable virus that could infect susceptible, uninfected animals. Such products include hay, silage, straw, materials used to contain or transport such products. In establishing if animals have been exposed to infection following movement of these products the following factors will be taken into account:
i. Likelihood that the product contains viable virus.
ii. Effectiveness of any treatment undertaken before it leaves the IP or comes into contact with uninfected susceptible animals.
iii. Interval between removal of product and contact with the susceptible, uninfected animals.
i. Movement by wildlife or non-susceptible vector
11. This is when a species of animal that is not susceptible to infection carries infective material from an IP either inadvertently or during scavenging.
It is difficult to prevent this though good husbandry should reduce the levels of vermin that are attracted to a premises. Once the animals are slaughtered, and if there is likely to be any delay in disposal, then measures, e.g. rodent control, covering and spraying carcases, etc will be taken by the National Wildlife Management Team, SVS and others to minimise this risk.
DISEASE CONTROL (SLAUGHTER) PROTOCOL
- The Lessons Learned Inquiry on the 2001 Foot and Mouth Disease outbreak recommended that provision should be made for the possible application of pre-emptive culling policies, if justified by well-informed veterinary and scientific advice, and judged to be appropriate to the circumstances. Such powers for pre-emptive (or preventive or "firebreak") culling of animals not exposed to FMD infection are provided for by the Animal Health Act 1981 (as amended). It adds to the armoury the Government has to fight FMD by getting ahead of the disease and stopping it spreading.
- Section 32B of the Animal Health Act 1981, as amended by the Animal Health Act 2002, requires the Secretary of State to have a disease control (slaughter) protocol for the use of the new slaughter power in the Act (Schedule 3, paragraph 3(c)) to prevent the spread of foot and mouth disease (FMD). This would be a pre-emptive or “firebreak” cull.
- This power cannot be used unless the protocol has been published and vaccination has first been considered to prevent the spread of disease (Section 14 of the Animal Health Act 1981 as amended). The reasons for not using vaccination would be published. The factors to be considered in deciding on the measures to be used to tackle an outbreak of FMD are set out in a separate document - FMD Disease Control Strategies, referred to as the FMD Decision Tree. The purpose of this disease control (slaughter) protocol is to identify criteria to be considered and procedures to be followed should it be considered necessary to call on this new slaughter power.
- Purpose for which the power would be used
- This power would be used only where this is justified by the circumstances of the possibility of disease spreading and on the basis of sound veterinary, epidemiological and scientific advice. Emergency vaccination would have been considered first and if not used the reasons would be published.
- The principal factors to be taken into account
- A major factor will be to get ahead of the disease. It could apply in particular to protect areas of dense livestock population. The cull would include those animals which, should they become affected, would present a significant risk to the farming and livestock community more generally by contributing to onward spread. It is in such circumstances that effective preventative action may be necessary to safeguard the wider public interest. Species, geographical area and, if appropriate, type of farming would be relevant. Any decision to use the wider powers of slaughter would be taken in the light of an overall assessment of the risks, costs and benefits in a given
situation. This could include not only risks of transmission but also social and economic risks that would arise if effective and timely action were not taken.
The procedure to be followed in reaching a decision
- Such a decision could not be made until the use of emergency vaccination had been considered and, if not used, the reasons published.
- The steps to be taken would then comprise:
- the identification of a group of animals that are likely to contribute to spread of disease, based on epidemiological modelling, veterinary advice and local factors;
- the determination of which species are involved;
- consideration of exemptions on the basis of husbandry or other criteria, for example, rare breeds or genetic value;
- the determination of the geographical area involved;
- the determination of the rules for inclusion or exclusion of animals at the boundary of that area;
- analysis of risks, costs and benefits;
- the publication of an outline of the reasons why such a cull is needed.
The procedure by which animals on a premises will be deemed to be included in a slaughter
- Premises believed to contain animals to be slaughtered to prevent the spread of disease would be identified. A Veterinary Inspector would visit and ascertain if animals meet the criteria and are to be slaughtered.
- The Veterinary Inspector would be required to explain the reasons to the owner and give him an opportunity to provide evidence if he believed the animals should be exempted. To ensure the reason for slaughter is clear to the owner a slaughter notice would be issued. The slaughter notice would state the powers under which slaughter is required and the reason why the owner's stock is included (with reference to the criteria for slaughter to prevent the spread of disease).
- The means by which a particular decision to slaughter can be reviewed
- Both as part of the slaughter notice and during explanations the owner must be made aware that they can ask the DVM to review the decision that their stock meet the criteria for the cull and be advised how and by when this can be done.
- The DVM, or a suitable alternative, must be available to hear such reviews. The following action would be taken:
- they will consider the views of the owner as to why they believe the decision is wrong;
- they must ensure that the veterinary inspector has carried out a full and fair inquiry to establish if the animals meet the appropriate criteria.
EMERGENCY VACCINATION ARRANGEMENTS
A range of suitable sites which could be used as future vaccination centres are currently being investigated by Defra. In identifying vaccination centres consideration will be given to the following factors:
- good road access to the target area(s) and to any satellite centres - where possible, within the target area;
- appropriate security systems (day and night);
- parking; • office accommodation for management and administrative staff;
- appropriate IT and telecoms facilities;
- secure refrigerated storage facilities for vaccine;
- storage facilities for equipment (vaccination kits, personal protection equipment, footbaths, buckets, brushes, tagging and inspection equipment etc.);
- facilities for mixing, storage and safe disposal of disinfectant;
- suitable area for plunge disinfection of PPE and subsequent drying;
- suitable area for vaccination team dispatch.
Modular office accommodation will also be made available, depending in circumstances, on a call off basis for use as vaccination centres if required. It is envisaged that each vaccination centre will be accompanied by smaller satellite centres which will exist on a smaller scale.
Defra will also arrange for a appropriate IT computers and telephone lines (land and ISDN) to be installed at the vaccination centre. Defra will also consider providing an emergency generator for use in the case of temporary loss of electricity supply.
Defra is currently responsible for the provision of equipment to supply the vaccination teams and vaccination centres. At present, there is enough equipment to supply 50 vaccination teams (each consisting of a 1 vaccinator, 1 ear tag reader/tagger and 1 ear tag recorder) - the initial number of teams required to be provided by the contractor under the terms of the present contract (there is also provision for this number to be ramped up depending on circumstances) - and this is stored equally between two sites. Call-off contracts are in place to obtain additional equipment (e.g. additional vaccine guns and needles), should this be required. This equipment will be subject to quality control checks in accordance with a quality management protocol by stores managers.
Defra are currently putting in place a call off contract for mobile cattle/sheep/pig handling facilities.
Upon the identification and establishment of vaccination centre(s) Defra will arrange for sufficient equipment to be dispatched to the vaccination centre for use by the vaccination contractor by the fourth day after the first case has been confirmed. In doing so, Defra will provide the vaccination contractor with a comprehensive inventory of equipment.
The vaccination contractor is in a position of being operationally capable of vaccinating on day 5 of an outbreak. To arrive at this state of readiness sufficient vaccinators and support staff have been trained to provide 50 teams and some 25 vets have been recruited to support this first response team. Working under the overall control of the SVS, the role of these vets will be to conduct pre-vaccination farm visits, to check for any overt signs of disease, and also to be responsible for the veterinary direction of vaccination teams in the field. The vaccination contractor also has the capability to ramp up the number of vaccination teams to meet any reasonable disease scenario within 4/5 days of notification.
A Health and Safety Team will be established by the vaccination contractor as part of the management of operational aspects. This will consist of a Manager and 2 other trained H&S consultants. This team will produce risk assessments for pre-vaccination visits by vets, for farm vaccinators, on handling facilities and maintain the necessary documentation to accompany this. The vaccination contractor will comply with best practice and all relevant provisions, whether statutory or otherwise, relating to health and safety at work and shall ensure that employees and sub-contractors also comply and shall produce evidence of such compliance if asked to do so.
All external contractors will be provided with, and will make themselves familiar with, Biosecurity Protocols.
To ensure that emergency vaccination could be implemented without delays in any future outbreak, Defra is currently making arrangements, subject to public consultation, for the use of lay vaccinators to be permitted by amending the Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966 and the Medicines Act 1968.
All local recruits to vaccination teams must meet specified criteria, including no contact with susceptible livestock for 3 days prior to starting the programme, during the programme and for 3 days after completion. They must sign to say that they comply.
Defra will convey the scope and policy of the project to the vaccination contractor, and confirm the approach to be taken. This will involve providing vaccine delivery arrangements. Defra will also keep the vaccination contractor informed of all suspect and confirmed cases as they occur and will keep the vaccination contractor informed of current policy and changes which may affect field operations.
4. Vaccine supplies and emergency vaccination arrangements
The UK has its own stocks of 8 different strains of FMD antigen held on its behalf by a commercial supplier. In addition, the EU Vaccine Bank holds a wide range of antigens for emergency use. The number of doses available and strains is kept under review, including taking advice from IAH Pirbright on those strains of FMD which present the greatest risk to the UK. As soon as the FMD strain responsible for the outbreak is identified and it has been confirmed that one of the antigens held in the UK bank will afford protection, the supplier will be instructed to formulate vaccine. Vaccine formulation by the designated external contractor takes 4 days.
A call-off contract is in place with the external contractor for the delivery of vaccine (stored at the correct temperature) to the vaccination centre.
When an emergency vaccination zone is set up, a vaccination surveillance area of at least 10 km width will be designated.
Upon establishment of the emergency vaccination zone, the vaccination contractor will then produce a complete list of holdings within selected parishes (or other agreed area to be targeted) in the Vaccination Control Zone and identify those with animals that require vaccination as advised by Defra. This information will be drawn together from the following sources, which Defra will provide access to, where appropriate:-
- Defra Census Data;
- The Rural Payments Agency (RPA);
- Cattle Tracing System (CTS);
- Integrated Administration and Control (IACS) data;
- Defra’s Disease Control System (DCS) on Infected Premises and Dangerous Contacts;
- Contextual datasets, such as Ordnance Survey (OS), Boundary Line (to produce parish and county boundaries), and OS raster map products.
- List of holdings containing a breeding nucleus of animal genetic resources (rare breeds).
The vaccination contractor will then contact farmers to arrange visits (giving 3 days notice where possible) and check animal handling facilities.
Pre-vaccination visits by veterinary surgeons appointed by the vaccination contractor will be arranged to carry out inspections which will detect suspected FMD and to exclude these from the vaccination programme.
Teams will be withdrawn from farms where clinical signs of FMD have been discovered. In doing so, biosecurity protocols must be followed (i.e. remove traces of organic matter from clothing, equipment, disinfect and remove any protective clothing at gate, wash wellingtons, waterproofs and equipment (inc.
vehicles) with an approved disinfectant, and place all items for disposal into a clinical waste bag, which should then be sealed for disposal. Teams would be redeployed after suitable biosecurity protocols have been followed and a 72 hour break.
Where FMD is not found, vaccination teams will be deployed to carry out vaccination, record animal numbers, collect and return records. Vaccinated animals will be indelibly marked in a manner advised by Defra. For identification purposes, vaccinated animals will be ear tagged and their details recorded on a stand alone database which will link into DCS.
Under the current UK Marketing Authorisation conditions, FMD vaccine is authorised for use as a multi dose vaccine i.e. the initial vaccine is followed by a second 3-4 weeks later, and a further booster after six months (or every 4 weeks after the initial vaccine is administered in the case of pigs.)
The vaccination contractor will also provide progress reports and ad hoc management information to National Disease Control Centre (NDCC) Page Street by 18.00 hours daily.
ANNEX F DIAGRAM SHOWING PROTECTION ZONE AND SURVEILLANCE ZONE
These terms are in line with the new FMD Directive (Council Directive 2003/85/EC). The geographical delimitation of the Zones shall take account of administrative boundaries, natural boundaries, supervision facilities and technological progress which makes it possible to predict the probable dispersion of the foot and mouth virus by air or any other means. Article 21 of the FMD Directive refers.
VETERINARY RISK ASSESSMENT AND PROTOCOL FOR RIGHTS OF WAY CLOSURE
Veterinary Risk Assessment
In the event of an outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease, what is the risk of causing further outbreaks of FMD if footpaths are open to the public?
1. Summary of Risk Assessment
Great Britain is classified as FMD free, in the event of a new introduction of disease, there is a risk that walkers using footpaths could cause further outbreaks. Infection may result from contaminated persons or accompanying animals arriving at the footpath and subsequently passing on infection to livestock or by persons or accompanying animals becoming contaminated while using the footpath and passing infection to livestock then or at a later time.
The factors considered to be most responsible for increasing this risk are:
- contact with infected premises or premises where animals have been exposed to the risk of infection prior to arrival at footpaths
- contact with livestock prior to arrival at footpaths
- failure to disinfect footwear prior to arrival at footpaths
- proximity of the footpath to livestock areas, including infected premises and premises where animals have been exposed to the risk of infection
- presence of accompanying animals
- failure to limit access for persons or accompanying animals from footpaths to livestock areas failure to limit access by livestock to footpaths, resulting in deposits of faeces, urine, milk etc.
- contact with livestock while in locality of footpaths
- contact with surroundings (including pasture and foliage) while in locality of footpath
- meteorological and environment conditions which influence virus survival
- failure to disinfect footwear after leaving locality of footpaths
- contact with livestock after leaving locality of footpaths
- contact with surroundings (including pasture and foliage) after leaving locality of footpath
Of these, the major factors are:
- proximity of the footpath to livestock areas, including infected premises and premises where animals have been exposed to the risk of infection
- contact with livestock prior to arrival at footpaths
- contact with livestock while in locality of footpaths
- contact with livestock after leaving locality of footpaths
- failure to limit access for livestock to footpaths, resulting in deposits of faeces, urine, milk etc.
2. Summary of Risk Management options and rationale
This section identifies ways in which the risks which have been identified can be managed, taking no account of whether the management options are practical or proportionate to the level of risk. Theoretical risk management options include:-
i. Closing all footpaths over land which may be grazed by livestock, making public access a criminal offence.
ii. Closing footpaths only in areas where the risk of FMD virus being present is greatest
iii. Preventing or discouraging access by those who keep or handle susceptible livestock in the course of their work, and so are most likely to have been exposed to and contaminated by FMD virus.
iv. Permitting access but encouraging the public
- to wear clean clothing and footwear so that they do not introduce infection to an area;
- to avoid walking amongst livestock, and, in particular, NEVER to handle or touch animals, and
- to use any disinfectant footbaths or pads which the landowner may choose to provide.
- Regulating access in accordance with the likelihood that infected animals or their products may be encountered. The risks are greatest on Form A and Form D premises, but entry and exit to and from these are already controlled by statute. Elsewhere the risk diminishes with distance as follows: -
- within the protection zone, normally an area of 3km radius around an Infected Premises in an Infected Area
- within an Infected Area outside any protection zone
- within a Controlled Area
- where no FMD controls are in force.
In addition to geographical factors, risk may diminish with time. Virus viability on pasture is limited and is dependent on meteorological conditions. Virus survival during the summer months is limited by warmer, drier weather. Meteorological conditions will be more favourable to virus survival on pasture during the winter months.
3. Recommended action
i. FMD virus may be introduced to previously uninfected premises in many ways: by airborne spread; by the movement of infected animals, feed or bedding; and by the movement of people, vehicles or equipment contaminated with the virus. Transmission by people has been recorded on many occasions, but those responsible have generally had close contact with animals on infected, and then on uninfected, premises. It is theoretically possible that walkers who had not had direct contact with infected animals could carry infection to previously uninfected animals, although there is no evidence that this has actually happened and the risk, if any, is small in comparison to other transmission risks.
ii. Even small risks can be further diminished by appropriate action, but the cost may outweigh the benefit. There is a balance to be struck between the need to control FMD and the damage that controls do to other important industries, such as tourism. Draconian action may be unnecessary and inappropriate, particularly if universally applied.
iii. There is no veterinary justification for closing all footpaths and preventing all public access to land. A more measured response, which takes account of both public perception and of the real risk, is required. The latter is the product of many factors, including the prevalence of infection in an area, the presence or absence of susceptible livestock, and the density of the livestock if present.
- Viable virus is most likely to be picked up on premises which have been recently infected or exposed to the risk of infection by human, animal, or animal product movement, or by proximity. Premises on which infection is suspected or has been confirmed, or on which animals have been exposed to the risk of infection, are subject to restrictions which prohibit entry or exit except under licence. Restrictions on individual premises may remain in force for many months, particularly on premises where full cleansing and disinfection is not carried out for any reason. The risk that walkers will come into contact with FMD virus on premises on which final cleansing and disinfection has been completed is very small, and even on premises where it has not, there is virtually no risk from walking on the land (as opposed to through yards or buildings) after a sufficient period of time has elapsed.
v. Even on premises which are not subject to Form A or Form D restrictions, infection may be present but unrecognised. The risk is greatest in premises situated in the Protection Zone of an Infected Area, less in Infected Areas outside Protection Zones, much less in Controlled Areas, and least where there are no restrictions or where restrictions have been lifted.
vi. Whatever the status of an area there is only a very small risk that walkers who have not recently handled or been in direct contact with susceptible livestock will introduce infection from elsewhere, or spread infection from one premises to another. The risk is greatest on land close to an Infected Premises on which FMD has recently been confirmed and diminishes with time. A high density of livestock increases the likelihood of contact between walkers and animals, and so increases any risk of transmission.
vii. The single most effective method of reducing any risk posed by walkers is to ensure that they have not handled or been in contact with susceptible livestock before or during their visit. Enforcement of such a condition is not practicable but it is reasonable to suppose that most walkers will respect the interests of the community at large by taking precautions which will minimise the risk of spreading FMD.
viii. It is extremely unlikely that walkers will come into contact with viable FMD virus. The risk of transmission by walkers from one farm to another is therefore very small. The following action can be justified:
- Allow public access to all paths and rights of way, but publicise and seek the co-operation of walkers in observing the following precautions intended to protect the disease - free status of the area:
- start your walk wearing clean footwear and clothing;
- do not approach, touch or handle livestock;
- keep dogs on a lead wherever there are livestock;
- take any waste, including food, home; and
- use any disinfectant footpads or baths which the landowner provides.
- Even when area restrictions are lifted, individual premises may remain under restriction for much longer than is necessary to control the risk that walkers and ramblers may come into contact with viable virus and carry infection to other premises. Virus survival on land at any time of the year is unlikely to extend beyond the date when final cleansing and disinfection of the premises is completed or more than three months from the date of preliminary cleansing and disinfection if this is sooner.
x. Entry to and exit from restricted premises is normally permissible only under licence but there is statutory provision for this requirement to be discontinued or modified. It is therefore feasible to allow footpaths on restricted premises to reopen whilst other restrictions (such as that which prevents restocking) remain in force.
xi. It is therefore recommended that:
- In the event of an outbreak, footpaths and bridleways should be closed within the Protection Zone, normally the area within a 3km radius of an infected place. In exceptional circumstances, following a veterinary risk assessment, the area may be larger than this in order to control the spread of disease. Such circumstances might arise, for example, where it is believed that conditions have allowed windborne dissemination of virus in high concentration over a large area. Footpaths and bridleways should remain closed until the protection zone restrictions have been lifted. This will normally be when the Infected Area restrictions are lifted.
- Footpaths and bridleways which only cross the land of restricted premises should be reopened as soon as the completion of final cleansing and disinfection has been certified. However, footpaths which pass through farmyards and buildings should be temporarily diverted, but if this cannot be done, they should remain closed until supervised restocking has been completed and restrictions lifted.
- If full cleansing and disinfection is being undertaken but has been delayed then footpaths and bridleways which cross the land only may be reopened
- 3 months after the preliminary cleansing and disinfection. However, footpaths which pass through farmyards and buildings should be temporarily diverted, but if this cannot be done, they should remain closed until supervised restocking has been completed and restrictions lifted.
- If full cleansing and disinfection is not being undertaken at all then footpaths and bridleways which cross the land only may be opened 3 months after the preliminary cleansing and disinfection. However, footpaths which pass through farmyards and buildings should be temporarily diverted, but if this cannot be done, they should remain closed until the restrictions are lifted.
Protocol for restrictions on public rights of way and access to open country, in the event of an outbreak of Foot and Mouth or similar animal diseases.
This document has recently been out for public consultation. All the comments received are being considered.
Revised guidance will be produced shortly and published on Defra’s website.
This protocol has been prepared for use in the event of an outbreak of foot and mouth or similar animal disease. It aims to guide the exercise of powers to close land where the closure affects public rights of way or land over which the public have access.
The Foot and Mouth Disease Order 1983 (as amended) gives inspectors appointed under the Animal Health Act 1981 powers to prohibit entry on to land within designated areas in the event of an outbreak of foot and mouth. The power incidentally enables the prohibition of entry on to any public right of way or land to which the public have access situated within the designated areas.
Summary of the Protocol
When the exercise of these powers would affect a public right of way or land to which the public have access, Inspectors:
- should use their powers sparingly and only as far as is necessary to control the spread of the disease;
- should prohibit entry to land within the protection zone (see paragraph 5 for definitions) only where this is justified on the basis of advice contained in the Government’s veterinary risk assessment (and not one commissioned by any other authority);
- should prohibit entry to land that is within an infected area but outside the protection zone only when there is clear and specific written veterinary advice that not doing so would undermine other measures aimed at controlling the spread of disease;
- should keep prohibitions of entry under review and lift them as soon as there is no longer any justification for preventing public access on the
- grounds of disease control; they must ensure that notices prohibiting entry to land are removed as soon as the prohibitions are lifted;
- must only prohibit entry to land outside infected areas where they have the express written consent of the Secretary of State.
Local Highway Authorities:
• should use their powers in the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949 to take action against anyone displaying notices that contain false or misleading statements likely to deter the public from using a public right of way.
- This protocol contains Government guidance on the degree to which restrictions on public access to the countryside should be imposed in any future outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease, or other similar animal diseases. It has been prepared by the Government following advice and recommendations by both Lord Haskins and the Rural Task Force.
- The approach set out here is based on the lessons learnt from the 2001 foot and mouth disease outbreak. However, as the nature and circumstances of a future outbreak may differ from those of the 2001 outbreak this approach may need to be adapted to the type of outbreak then being faced. This protocol is therefore a starting point for an evidence-based approach and will be reviewed on a regular basis
- This protocol has been drawn up in relation to Foot and Mouth Disease. But it is intended that the protocol would form the basis for the Government’s approach to dealing with other similar diseases.
- As recommended by Lord Haskins and the Rural Task Force, the protocol is based on the clear principle that there should be a presumption in favour of maintaining public access. Thus, any decision to close land over which there is a public of right of way, or where there is public open space or access to open country, should be taken only when it is clearly necessary to do so and after having carefully considered:
- the requirement for disease control, as informed by the Government’s veterinary risk assessment, which will include an assessment of any risk that rights of way users and other visitors to the countryside could spread disease; and
- the recreational and economic value of the rights of way network and other countryside access and the likely impact of closure on the users of the network, visitors to the countryside and the businesses that depend on them.
5. The terms used in this protocol are defined as follows:
Infected Place – means premises where disease has been confirmed.
Protection Zone – means an area of at least 3 km radius around an infected place (beyond which the risk of infection is significantly diminished). The exact extent of the protection zone will depend on the Government’s veterinary risk assessment commissioned at the time.
Infected Area – means the area around an infected place in which foot and mouth disease controls will apply and within which a protection zone lies. The area is declared by order (article 17(1) of the Foot and Mouth Disease Order 1983). It normally consists of an area with a boundary not less than 10 km beyond the infected place, using as a boundary the next closest geographical feature beyond a 10 km radius, for example a road or river.
Controlled Area – means an area declared by order (article 30(1) of the Foot and Mouth Disease Order 1983), in which some foot and mouth disease controls may apply. These controls may be less strict than in infected areas. In the 2001 outbreak, for example, all of Great Britain was declared a controlled area.
Inspector – means a person appointed by the Secretary of State or by a local authority for the purposes of the Animal Health Acts or a veterinary inspector appointed by the Secretary of State. The Foot and Mouth Disease Order 1983 (as amended) gives an Inspector the power to prohibit the entry of any person onto any land (including land over which there is a public right of way or to which the public otherwise have lawful access) within an infected area (article 28). An Inspector has similar powers in relation to a controlled area, but these powers can only be exercised with the prior written consent of the Secretary of State (article 37A).
- This protocol is based on veterinary advice and the experience of the 2001 foot and mouth disease outbreak. Both the advice and the protocol will be kept under review and regularly updated in the light of any advance in knowledge.
- Current veterinary advice is that outside the protection zones, the risk of rights of way users and other visitors to the countryside spreading foot and mouth or similar disease is very small indeed. Consequently, although rights of way and other forms of public access within protection zones may need to be closed where the evidence justifies this, those outside protection zones may safely be kept open. Farmers and other people in contact with animals or areas where animals congregate pose a considerably greater risk of spreading disease than rights of way users. Such persons will be subject to more stringent biosecurity measures. Defra has published separate biosecurity guidance for consultation, as required by the Animal Health Act 1981 (as amended by the Animal Health Act 2002).
Exercise of powers
- The power to prohibit entry by any person onto any land in the event of an outbreak of foot and mouth disease is contained in articles 28 and 37A of the Foot and Mouth Disease Order 1983 (as amended). Recognising that the unnecessary closure of public rights of way and other forms of public access is to be avoided, the power temporarily provided by Government to local authorities in 2001 to allow blanket closures will not be reinstated in the event of any future outbreak.
- The powers in articles 28 and 37A of the 1983 Order can be exercised by any inspector, whether appointed by a local authority or the Government. The Government’s policy, however, is that, in relation to an infected area the power is best exercised by local authorities. This is because local authorities are better informed about local circumstances and have, in any event, general responsibility for rights of way and other forms of public access. However Defra have the powers to lift entry prohibitions imposed by local authority Inspectors.
THE USE OF POWERS FOOT AND MOUTH DISEASE ORDER 1983 (AS AMENDED) TO CLOSE RIGHTS OF WAY AND OTHER PUBLIC ACCESS
On Infected places
10. Entry to an infected place, including rights of way and other (otherwise lawful) public access will be prohibited by an Inspector. This is done by posting a notice to this effect at each entrance to the land in question.
Within infected areas
- Outside the protection zone, entry to rights of way and other (otherwise lawful) public access should be kept open unless there is clear and specific written veterinary advice that to do so would undermine other measures to control the spread of disease. Inspectors should keep prohibitions of entry under review and lift such prohibitions as soon as there is no longer any justification for denying public access on the grounds of disease control.
- Entry to rights of way and other land within the protection zone may be prohibited, where justified on the basis of advice in the Government’s veterinary risk assessment (not one commissioned by any other authority).
- Powers should be used sparingly and in such a way that when rights of way or other forms of access have to be closed, they are closed up to a junction with another right of way or highway, or in the case of open areas to a clearly definable physical feature, e.g. a road or river, rather than by reference to some point at an arbitrary distance from the infected place.
In controlled areas
14. Inspectors can only exercise the power to prohibit entry to land outside an infected area if that land has been declared a controlled area by order – and only then with the express written consent of the Secretary of State. This consent will only be given in exceptional circumstances and in response to a compelling written case for doing so.
- The Government will ensure that guidance is made available to local authorities from the earliest possible stage of an outbreak and that this is backed by a current veterinary risk assessment. The Government will also give high priority to ensuring that up to date information is readily available to the public about which rights of way, and other areas normally open to public access, have been closed by establishing a formal communications structure as detailed in Defra’s Foot and Mouth Disease Contingency Plan.
- Attention will be given to improving the understanding of both farmers and visitors to the countryside of their roles and responsibilities in minimising the risk of spreading contagious animal disease. A careful evidence-based approach will be essential in the event of a future outbreak. Defra will publish its risk assessments to explain why some activities are higher risk than others.
Unjustified closure notices
- Inspectors should either deny access where this is necessary or, if not, allow it. Precautionary notices such as “This footpath is open, but please consider whether your walk is necessary” should neither be posted nor sanctioned by local authorities. Inspectors should ensure that notices prohibiting entry to land are removed as soon as the restrictions prohibiting entry can be lifted.
- Local authorities should use their powers under section 57 of the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949 to prosecute any person displaying a notice containing false or misleading statements likely to deter the public from using a right of way. If convicted under section 57 a person displaying such a notice may be ordered by the courts to remove it.