This is the latest communication. Comments are most welcome either here at warmwell or with a request that they be forwarded to the CA site ;
August 4 2007 10.20 a.m. - From Mary Marshall at the EU-funded FMD & CSF Coordination Action Website (temporarily down)
FMD outbreak in
It is essential to determine the origin of the infection, the index case, the extent of spread, to communicate rapidly and effectively with livestock keepers and to be prepared to rapidly implement vaccination.
Movement restrictions and Communication:
Defra is to be praised for acting quickly in imposing the ban on animal movements, but this needs to be supported by thorough epidemiological investigations and there needs to be clarification of derogations, e.g. is the "General licence for the movement of cows for milking along a public highway in a Restricted Zone", dated 2006, valid now (see http://www.defra.gov.uk/animalh/diseases/fmd/pdf/milkinglicence-070803.pdf) ? Defra has announced in the press that the movement ban refers to cattle, sheep and pigs; what about goats, deer, camelids (recognizing that camelids are not true ruminants and are not carriers of FMDV)? Furthermore, Defra's failure to directly target alerts to the keepers of susceptible livestock will certainly have resulted in movements after the ban was announced last night.
Media reports indicate that livestock keepers have learned about the outbreak and the movement ban from the radio, television and press, not from Defra. One commented on Saturday morning's BBC Farming Today This Week, that if he hadn't listened to the radio last night, he might have moved his animals this morning. How many have done this simply because they were unaware of the situation? Shouldn't Defra have a targetted alert system in place? If Defra persist in communicating through the BBC, then the BBC must provide more balanced coverage and hard copies of their reports must be made available to stakeholders (this is one of many questions that Defra promised to answer in previous consultations, but remain unanswered).
This morning (Saturday) a producer at a farmers market in Herefordshire told me that she had seen a lorry full of cattle going down the High Street at 07.15, and added "He would probably claim that he hadn't listened to the radio . There is bound to have been large scale movement of sheep, cattle and pigs throughout the country all through the night, and frankly, who could blame them?" This is an attitude that Defra must acknowledge. The only way to prevent, or at least to discourage, these actions is to provide: 1) effective targeted alerts; 2) rapid on- or near- site diagnostics to identify animals that are virus free and therefore safe to move; 3) fair control measures that the livestock keepers an acceptable degree of choice with regard to slaughter with compensation, isolation, and vaccination.
Identification of the origin and of the index case, and investigation of spread:
Origin: legal import of infected meat products; illegal import, eg. bushmeat; legal import of pre-clinically or sub-clinically imported animals; intentional introduction; accidental escape? See:
http://www.promedmail.org/pls/promed/f?p=2400:1001:17936306860490464773::NO::F2400_P1001_BACK_PAGE,F2400_P1001_PUB_MAIL_ID:1000,38660 . We must not postpone or ignore this aspect of the investigation; all the possibilities must be considered and drive the surveillance strategy.
Can we have more details of who saw the first symptoms, when and why - routine inspection or suspicion? How old were the blisters on the sick cows?
Spread: Farmers are being asked to inspect their animals for signs of infection. To what extent, if any, are animals being tested for virus?
These issues have been discussed since 2001. Why are we still waiting for implementation of rapid diagnostic capability? See "Diagnostic testing options", paragraphs 12, 13 and 14 in the report of the 6th Meeting of the UK FMD Expert Group, 2 November 2006 at
"Government vets are urgently testing the seven livestock farms in the immediate vicinity of the
Surreypremises. If there is any sign of disease, animals there will also be slaughtered." http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/article2196646.ece
Can we have more details of how, when and where such testing will be taking place?
Preparation must begin as soon as the strain has been identified. This preparation must be done even if evidence later emerges that it will not be necessary.
Unfortunately, the EU-funded FMD & CSF Coordination Action (http://www.fmd-and-csf-action.org/ ) website has been off line for the past two weeks and is not expected to be working until the end of the next week. Please check and once it is working, please do contribute to the Forum discussions. ProMED (www.promedmail.org ) and warmwell (www.warmwell.com ) are highly recommended as sources of timely and knowledgeable information.
Comments are warmly invited.
04 August 2007