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January 21 2008 ~ From Diane ~ sends a useful reply to Helene

January 16 2008 ~ From Helene Towers ~ "A little while ago I was made aware that ducks, and other small animals, can literally 'dry out' if digesting too much lettuce or spinach because of the nitrate content. ..Any chance that the readers of your site can help?...."

January 10 2008 ~ From Anne Beasley ~ " soul is still affected by many issues that happened on all sides during that tragedy, from govt mishandling to greed from various sources at the animals expense..."

December 5 2007 ~ From Moira Linaker ~ "....and yet a machine is available - none of this makes sense to me.."

November 13 2007 ~ From Dan Cook ~ "......Clearly vaccination, if available, would be preferable, but having more than one weapon might be an appropriate step."

November 8 2007 ~ From Christina Speight ~ "Make a collossal mistake and then, to straighten the books, make the victims pay the price of their incompetence.."

November 6 2007 ~ From Betty Stikkers ~ " it should be no problem to send animals to the free area if bloodsampled"

November 6 2007 ~ From Ashley Shaw ~ "....rumours on the farmers' grapevine that the Queens Windsor herd of Jersey cattle was secretly vaccinated on orders from Downing St. The work was undertaken by army vets (Household Cavalry) ..."

November 3 2007 ~ From Lisa Norris ~ "....I tell you all this, not so you can post my show results on Warmwell, or to look like I'm blowing my own trumpet, but to show you that it is a good flock of sheep, not just a commercial flock and I am extremely proud of my guys. So you can see exactly why I wish to keep hold of the flock, not sell it or even worse, kill them because of a midge some 120 miles away in Peterborough..."

November 2 2007 ~ From Peter Searle ~ Bluetongue vaccine "we need around 72 million doses.."

October 25 2007 ~ From Lawrence Wright ~".... why would the carcasses have got far enough through the system to require recall of the meat and announcements on the national news?"

October 23 2007 ~ From Jane Barribal ~ would like support for her petition to the Prime Minister for vaccine production for Bluetongue

October 15 2007 ~ From Huw Rowlands ~ His open letter to Hilary Benn "....It appears that the entire biosecurity and food safety policy of the U.K. is aimed at protecting agri-business and major producers and suppliers, and fails to distinguish between them and small, specialist, traditional producers such as myself...."

October 6 2007 ~ From Jane Ross ~ midge repellent "The recipe is my own; there are variations of it being used by thousands of people who have tweaked it to suit."

October 4 2007 ~ From Pat Rickett ~ DEFRA's List of Slaughterhouses in the bluetongue area contained many that had been closed for 5 YEARS and some of which were tiny slaughterhouses killing only 5 or 6 beasts a week for themselves...

October 3 2007 ~ From Ashley Shaw ~ "If my beautiful pedigree Jersey herd is taken out because of the incompetence, ignorance and sheer bloody mindedness of DEFRA, the EU and that ridiculous Dr.Reynolds then they had better beware..."

October 3 2007 ~ From Lawrence Wright ~ unbalanced reporting on Farming Today ".... would it really be more expensive to vaccinate all stock in a 10km ring than to kill so many uninfected animals on contiguous farms?"

October 2 2007 ~ From Michael Meredith ~ the vet and commentator From has some succinct words of advice for DEFRA.

October 1 2007 ~ From Rosemary Brown ~ "....Why are UK vets so reluctant to mention FMD and why is the outbreak almost ignored in the veterinary press? Their counterparts on the continent seem very ready to have EU legislation changed and have already shown their disapproval of our current measures....Our once proud nation will soon be the 'laughing stock' of the civilised world."

September 30 2007 ~ From Stuart Brown ~ ".... grandfather used to keep midges off his cattle and horses by using 20 gallons of water with one gallon of vinegar added and wipe the animal all over..."

September 29 2007 ~ From John Tuck ~"...There is good reason to believe that this country has been trading fraudulently."

September 28 2007 ~ From John Burns ~ " effective vaccination against H5N1"??

September 27 2007 ~ From Susan Haywood ~ " In the 2001 outbreak I was one of those whose area (N.Pennines) was affected and was heartily and vociferously critical of DEFRA policy. So much so that I, together with a friend, wrote a book ..."

September 27 2007 ~ From Jacquita Allender ~ "the medieval and bloody slaughter continues......" and comments about Howard Dalton's Times letter.

September 26 2007 ~ From Nick Green ~ " I rang Reigate. "We are experiencing high levels of calls ........................ Press 1 for FMD or 2 for anything else.."

September 26 2007 ~ From Alicia Eykyn ~ "How heartening to read Roger Breeze once again getting so succinctly to the nub of the problems.."

September 25 2007 ~ From Huw Rowlands ~ "Did I imagine registering my Red Polls on this register for vaccination in the event of a further FMD outbreak?"

September 25 2007 ~ From Anne Lambourn ~ letter written on the Scotsman website relating to the article by Dan Buglass today "My frustration with these loose comments being bandied around re vaccination is clear I think.."

September 22 2007 ~ From Norm Coates ~ Remembering the plumber who worked on the renovations to the Pirbright Level 4 lab at the end of August (see warmwell), Norm wonders about his route home from Pirbright to Hampton - through Egham

September 22 2007 ~ From Neil Oughton ~ The royal animals are now in real danger - what will the Cabinet decide?

September 22 2007 ~ From Lawrence Wright ~ "he quotes the official as saying that this was "asking people to believe improbable, on top of improbable, on top of improbable".

September 20 2007 ~ From John Burns ~ Successive UK Governments have justified EU membership by saying we have more influence within than without the EU. ... it should have no fear about its ability to help numerous other EU member states change the archaic rules relating to trade in products from FMD-vaccinated animals.

September 19 2007 ~ From Lawrence Wright - Sheep farmer: " I wonder how the public at large could be made aware that cattle can.... recover without major suffering. Public awareness of this might feed a groundswell of objection to the peremptory slaughter and its costs..."

September 18 2007 ~ From Hugh Boyes - TWELVE blue squares denoting the "Centres of zones" - of which only two are labelled with farm names - So what are the other 10 centres?

September 18 2007 ~ From Lawrence Wright - has also taken issue with the BBC about unbalanced and heavily edited reporting on vaccination today

September 17 2007 ~ From Hugh Boyes - has taken issue with the BBC about its reporting following his visit to warmwell

September 17 2007 ~ From Pat Innocent - yet another of the most effective campaigners of 2001 in the Forest of Dean, on the subject of deer.

September 17 2007 ~ From Jon Dobson - one of the most effective campaigners of 2001 writes, "... I can't believe we are hearing the same stories again, though this time even more worrying, as DEFRA should have more than enough manpower to ensure a correct handling of the outbreak."

September 16 2007 ~ From Chris Craghill - lived in Cumbria in 2001 "for MAFF in 2001 read DEFRA in 2007...."

September 15 2007 ~ From Huw Rowlands who rears traditional breed Red Poll cattle run as a beef suckler herd. Frustrated and angry, he wants vaccination

September 15 2007 ~ From Robert Persey     "....the Government has been allowing the composting of meat and feathers on farms in open windrows. Incredibly some of these activities are taking place on livestock farms with the connivance of state vets...illegal under the provisions of the Animal By Products Order 2005..."

September 15 2007 ~ From Ruth Watkins      The virologist/farmer fears the coming of Bluetongue ~ and as for FMD ".... Surely it is not beyond the wit of man and woman to create a vaccination zone in the South of England and try and return farming to near normality in the rest of Britain?"

September 14 2007 ~ From Michael Greaves with some political speculation

September 14 2007 ~ From Hilary Peters whose real food diary 2002-2005 (new window) was a joy and whose succinct wisdom here is irrefutable.

September 13 2007 ~ And more From Norm Coates "Where do the occupants of the portacabin call home?"

September 13 2007 ~ From Norm Coates, consders the stream and makes some more observations i

September 12 2007 ~ From Rosemary Brown - "Surely it must now be obvious to the 'powers that be' that vaccination is the only way that this and other diseases can be eradicated..."

September 12 2007 ~ From Huw Rowlands on vaccination ironies.

August 19 2007 ~ From Robert Persey (mystery disease as a result of meat composting? " I strongly believe that supermarket meat in packaging is still going to landfill".)

August 15 2007 ~ From John Tuck Wiltshire farmer - (shortage of funding for IAH Pirbright in particular and for DEFRA's contingency plans in general)

August 15 2007 ~ From Mary Marshall, participant in the EU-funded FMD & CSF Coordination Action ( Informed comment about UK progress with rapid diagnostic PCR and NSP vaccines)

August 15 2007 ~ From Peter and Suzanne Greehill (with the text of Mrs Greenhill's letter, published in the Telegraph yesterday.)

August 14 2007 ~ From Michael Greaves - (. A refreshing bit of candour here as well as first-hand investigation and thoughtful deduction from our Barrister correspondent)

August 13 2007 ~ From Rosemary Brown veterinary nurse - ("corned beef.... I happened to glance at the label and discovered that it was produced in Brazil for John West Foods of Liverpool..... I fail to see why our farmers are going to suffer for months yet because of the ban on exporting British meat, when we are importing from countries where vaccination is the norm.")

August 13 2007 ~ From Dr Paul Sutmoller, Chair of the Animal Health Committee ELA - European Livestock Association, wrote to the Sunday Times (his letter here) to reply to Sir Brian Follett's article. He invited warmwell to reproduce it in its full version here.

August 12 2007 ~ From Andrés Perez - ("next time we should collect samples in milk from the beginning")

August 12 2007 ~ From Mary Marshall, Participant in the EU-funded FMD & CSF Coordination Action - on bulk milk testing research

August 12 2007 ~ From Michael Greaves, 2nd email - (his observations suggest the Telegraph stream theory is 'daft'. Uphill flow? But see later email from Michael Greaves)

August 12 2007 ~ From Norm Coates, 3rd email - (shows us the position of the stream and makes some more observations)

August 11 2007 ~ From Dr Ruth Watkins, virologist - (on why vaccination is not openly discussed by DEFRA)

August 11 2007 ~ From Mary Marshall, EU-funded FMD & CSF Coordination Action - ( the advantage of testing for virus is that infection can be detected before clinical signs appear )

August 10 2007 ~ From Peter Greenhill Chairman, Mitchells Auction Company,. Cockermouth - (rapid tests on farm)

August 10 2007 ~ From Dr Colin Fink Virologist & Hon. Senior Lecturer in Biological Sciences University of Warwick - ( reason why vaccine for this outbreak should be used sooner rather than later)

August 10 2007 ~ From Jane Barribal at Farmtalking - (she has started a petition to allow vaccination 'to live' now for Foot and Mouth Disease Protection)

August 10 2007 ~ From Nick Green - ( who has been making enquiries about the use of on-site tests and the belated decision to close foopaths)

August 10 2007 ~ From E. Smithson - an English farmer with an ironic query

August 9 2007 ~ From Robert Persey - (query about the presence of composting centres handling catering or category three meat waste in the FMD area)

August 9 2007 ~ From Ben Moxon (a local - on the deer around the area of the outbreak)

August 8 2007- From Miriam Roberts - (the identity of the possible lab leak in 1981)

August 8 2007- From Huw Rowlands farmer of rare breed Red Poll cattle in Cheshire - ( fully in favour of vaccination and with forceful reasons why)

August 8 2007- From Nick Green of Cumbria, 2001 hero, (on the BBC interview with David Catlow -" I stopped eating my cornflakes and wondered how Catlow would respond...")

August 7 2007- From Ken Tyrell - (who was a young vet when FMD virus escaped from Pirbright in 1960)

August 7 2007- From Bryn Wayt - (extraordinary news on rapid diagnosis being used in Surrey)

August 7 2007- From John Brooks - (Is ignorance any defence when DEFRA does not communicate?)

August 7 2007- From Margaret Shackles - (on the presence of pedigree goats; acclaimed Ashdene and Theban herds of British Toggenburg and British Saanen dairy goats, arguably the best goats in the UK - at risk in the Protection Zone)

August 7 2007- From Lawrence Wright - (A letter both to us and to Farmers Weekly on the subject of virus spread and vaccination)

August 7 2007- From Sabine Zentis - (by the time clinical signs are obvious the virus is already on the move to claim the next victim. The Government should stop listening to useless "consultants" and use vaccination before it is too late. )

August 7 2007- From Michael Greaves - (on the "gravity defying pathogen" - flooding travelling uphill? )

August 7 2007- From Jonathan Miller, journalist at has been in touch and has launched back into the fray against some of the recurring stupidities we hoped never to see again after 2001

August 7 2007- From Lawrence Wright 2nd email - (on flooding and infection in deer)

August 7 2007- From Adrianne Smythe farmer - (on the nonsense about vaccination spreading the disease)

August 6 2007- From Vickie Rogers at the Farmers Guardian with useful links to FG stories today

August 6 2007- From Jo Rider, 2nd email - (references to the cuts made in Pirbright's funding, the effects of that on the new Lab and the suggestion that there are builders on site - are they showering and following the 3/5 day rule too, one wonders?)

August 6 2007- From Norm Coates, 2nd email - (looks as geographical position of index farm land and queries movements on and off before FMD discovered)

August 6 2007- From Joyce Ross, farming on Hebridean island - (query about Pirbright security)

August 6 2007- From Jo Rider, farmer - ( interestingly, the same query about Pirbright security)

August 6 2007- From Norm Coates, Nr Richmond, west of Sydney, Australia - (questions about spread from Pirbright)

August 6 2007- From Judy Tuthill - ( dairy farmer in New York about zones + our reply)

August 6 2007- From Miriam Roberts - ( reminder of a previous escape of virus from Pirbright)

August 5 2007- From Henry Curteis - (confused about vaccination decision + our reply)

August 5 2007- From Andrés Perez at the FMD Surveillance, University of California at Davis - (on confusion over virus strain name)

August 5 2007- From Chris Craghill - (on humane slaughter)

August 5 2007- From Christina Speight - (On the distance between Pirbright and Woolfords Farm)

August 5 2007- From Patrick Rust - (on "limited use" by Pirbright of the outbreak strain)

August 5 2007- From Theresa and Ian Henderson -- Brecon Beacons - (on humane killing)

August 5 2007- From Robert Persey -(2nd email. On misinformation about 2001 source)

August 5 2007- From Sabine Zentis - specialist farmer - (on whether animals experimented on enter the food chain)

August 5 2007- From Lawrence Wright - sheep farmer - (on the mystery of the shrinking distance between Pirbright and Enfield)

August 4 2007- From John Cresswell -sheep farmer - (on supermarket behaviour at times of crisis)

August 4 2007- From Charles Abel, - (Head of Content at the Farmers Weekly Group with useful links)

August 4 2007- From Pat Rickett - Northamptonshire farmer - (on speed the BCMS needs - in theory - accurately to check ear tags)

August 4 2007- From Robert Persey - (campaigning with Association of Swill Users for compensation for swill feeders on potential dangers of unregulated waste recycling )

From Diane January 21 2008

Hello Mary

in reply to Helene Towers email of Jan 16th.. Years ago we were also warned off from feeding lettuce as it positively causes animals such as guinea pigs to become light & die, or to acquire a non-stop hemorrhagic diorreaha in rabbits & degu etc. & was told it was because of the high laudanum content in lettuce, & for years I actually believed that.
After reading Helene's email that reminded me of the unfounded above mentioned! But have found facts about Spinach & Lettuce in a book called;

From Hugh Boyes 18th September 2007


The protection zone gets more and more curious. The diagram below is from the BBC website (, the TWELVE blue squares denoting the "Centres of zones" - of which only two are labelled with farm names - So what are the other 10 centres? They are presumably not random points on a map!

After some digging on the DEFRA website I found the declarations (12/9/07, 14/9/07 & 15/9/07 - copies attached). Using the grid co-ordinates provided in these Declarations I looked up the centres using the Ordnance Survey's website - the results are a curious mix as you will see from the attached pdf (OS Grid Ref of FMD PZ) - 7 out of the 11 current Centres of Zones relate to clearly identifiable farms, 1 relates to Staines Moor/King George VI Reservoir, 1 relates to open land near Staines, 1 relates to fields/lakes near Thorpe, and one appears to relate to West Byfleet Golf Course. All of the maps seem to include watercourses!



Received later


I have corrected an error in the file I sent you earlier - one of the maps was wrong, sorry.

Using I have tried to relate the coordinates of the centres as published by DEFRA to the centres as published on the BBC's website - see map on first page of attached file. (the letters by the centres are ones that I have added for identification purposes). I cannot get them all to match up!

Curious - I may have made a mistake - have a look and see what you think.






From Hugh Boyes


I read the article about Misinformation (here) and followed your excellent links.

The BBC page you refer to is nothing but NFU propaganda (the farmer concerned being the NFU Surrey County Chairman - easily found using a Google search). I think that this is abysmal reporting and have submitted the following complaint to the BBC via their website.

Please feel free to publish it on your emails page. I will be interested to see what sort of response I get.




From Lawrence Wright

Dear Mary,


Of course Patrick Holden said no such thing on Farming Today

 He was on  yesterday.  He recommended vaccination and mentioned that it had been used in Holland.  I know that he was not approving that the animals were subsequently killed - just indicating a precedent for vaccinating.

Today on Farming Today an email was read from someone called Michael Weaver; who drew attention to the fate of those vaccinated animals.  They promised to expand on these issues later in the programme.  Later they interviewed David Catlow, President of the BVA.  He 'explained' to listeners that vaccination was 'a tool' for the stopping the spread of 'uncontrollable disease'.  So if the 'modellers' identified that the disease had become uncontrollable, animals might be vaccinated in a ring, say, 3 or 10 Km round the outbreak; and this would have the effect of damping down the spread of the disease.  

 Anna Hill asked him about the fate of the vaccinated animals.  He responded that there would be two different things we could do… and then proceeded to explain that in the event of the numbers of animals to be slaughtered exceeding the capacity of the slaughter teams, or the corpses exceeding the capacity of the means of disposal, vaccination could be used to 'buy time'; so that the animals could be culled later, 'without panic'!  He did not mention a second thing.

When Anna Hill asked if vaccination would be used, he responded that at present there is not panic or huge numbers of animals affected and the outbreak is not getting out of hand…

I fumed at the spineless BBC for misrepresenting Patrick Holden and the considerations relating to vaccination and not asking the vet any really probing questions: and I wished that we, as apparently Germany does, had a veterinary profession guided by ethics.


Middle Campscott Farm
EX34 8LS
Tel 01271 864621


PS  Patrick just phoned to thank me for my email.  He heard the programme and had spoken at length to Anna Hill, objecting to the coverage of vaccination.  She told him that the item had been better balanced but the part about vaccination to live had been edited out.  Hopefully the BBC will attempt to remedy the ommission.  He encouraged me to complain to Farming Today.  I had already sent them a message via their horrible website form as follows:

"The interview with David Catlow this morning, gave a very misleading impression of the value of vaccination in dealing with an outbreak of FMD.

Well qualified virologists like Dr Colin Fink, Clinical Virologist & Hon. Senior Lecturer in Biological Sciences University of Warwick, Micropathology Ltd Research and Diagnosis and Dr Ruth Watkins BSc Hons, MSc, MBBS, MRCP, MRCPath. say that it is now possible to discriminate with tests between vaccinated and infected animals.

 This means that it is not necessary to kill animals vaccinated in order to control an outbreak: and that it would be possible to benefit from the control offered by vaccinating susceptible animals around a source of infection, without the need for mass slaughter. 

 Use of vaccination can offer rapid control of disease spread, particularly valuable where, as in the present case, the means of spread are not understood (and could, for example involve wild animals like deer); and would allow the early relaxing of the damaging restrictions on animals movements outside the area of the outbreak."


It has not yet appeared on the website…


A reader of the Warmwell website has submitted the following complaint to the BBC:

"The above page carries the following text "One in five vaccinated animals carry and display signs of the disease."

This statement is presented as fact - it is a misleading view particularly subscribed to by DEFRA and the NFU, An expert who has been consulted by the BBC ( on other vaccination matters is Dr Ruth Watkins. It is inexcusable for the BBC to continue to peddle this line, when experts like Dr Watkins can explain the vaccine technologies available today which could prevent the 'ritual' slaughter of health farm animals.

This page falls well short of the standard of truth and impartiality that one expects from the BBC - whilst the page is "a farmer's diary" such misrepresented facts will no doubt be recycled in other reports and Angus Stovold is closely involved with the NFU (e.g. as Chairman of the Surrey NFU).

We need good quality journalism on this matter not the BBC demonstrating that it can simply trotting out the party line (be it DEFRA or the NFU) - please talk to some real experts such as Dr Watkins and get a clear an honest story across."

From Pat Innocent

Dear Mary,

Thank you so much for your hard work in keeping us informed, yet again, on the FMD situation.

I believe there is a population of roe deer in the infected area in Surrey. If they were infected last month from one of the diseased farms, they will be spreading FMD around while hardly noticing it themselves. Defra and the media have been deafening silent on this issue, but if this IS the case, there's only one way out - ring vaccination. Slaughter might work, but only when all the cattle, sheep, goats and pigs have been killed everywhere the deer roam, and by that time, the rest of the country will probably have caught it from tyres and people's shoes.

God help us.

Pat Innocent

Thank you, Pat. This is what I wrote on

August 5 2007 ~ Deer do not obey movement bans - and roe deer move between Pirbright and local farms.

From Jon Dobson

Dear Mary
I had decided to 'watch from the wings' this time, as it seems to be there are so many contributors that are more qualified than me, just like last time, who once again are being ignored. Unfortunately, this time we don't have Fred Brown.
I just read about the botched cull, ending up with cows on the golf course at Purley. I can't believe we are hearing the same stories again, though this time even more worrying, as DEFRA should have more than enough manpower to ensure a correct handling of the outbreak.
I've just written a open letter to Adam Price about the situation as of now, which if you feel it might help, you can publish.
Can't tell you how mad I am about FMD at the moment, it is appalling that things are still the same. Thank you for having stayed the course and keeping the brilliant Warmwell website alive - one can only hope that a few at DEFRA might have it saved as a favourite.
                                            Jon Dobson
                                            nr Llangadog
                                            SA19 9TN

                                            Phone: 01550 740355


                                            Monday 17 September 2007

Dear Adam Price,

As someone who was directly involved with the Foot and Mouth outbreak
in 2001, I am concerned that the same mistakes are being made yet again
in the current outbreak in Surrey.

It appears from the latest reports as of this morning that contractors
vehicles at IAH Pirbright were not properly disinfected when they left
the site, and were probably responsible for the infection reaching the
second farm reported as affected on Friday.

Even more disturbing is that it turns out that a 3rd farm, not yet
officially reported as infected, had a botched cull where 4 cows
bolted, went through fields and a canal, finally ending up at the 16th
hole at Purley Golf Club. Golfers at the club where held at the Club
house for 5 hours while police marksmen were dispatched to kill the
frightened animals.

This is beyond belief - there were many reports back in 2001 of
haphazard disinfection, and lots of reports of botched culls and
inhumane slaughter. The defence then, as I am sure it is now, is that
of 'unmitigated circumstances'. I can supply you with many cases of
inhumane treatment that took place back in 2001, when I was providing
evidence to the EU Enquiry in preparation for their report on the FMD

God forbid should the virus escape from the confines of the area in
Surrey, as DEFRA are already showing their inability to manage the
outbreak humanely, professionally and compassionately. They hide behind
the ironically named 'Animal Welfare Act', preventing any witnesses
from overviewing their actions by threatening a £5000 fine or potential
prison sentence, so that they cannot be supervised to make sure that
legal standards on the treatment of animals can be maintained.

Vaccination is the answer, as has been proven in so many other
countries, and the fact that the Government allow a comparatively small
business like meat export to control their decision on this is

I have a sheep farm here in Carmarthenshire. I shudder to think what it
might be like should DEFRA start getting closer to this area, should
the virus escape and come further West.

It is time that we, in Wales, with our own Assembly, began campaigning
for vaccination, and a sensible approach to disease control that
includes compassionate treatment of animals, without the usual caveats
of 'unmitigated circumstances'. A friend of mine, Professor Fred Brown,
described the acts back in 2001 as a 'disgrace to humanity'. Let's not
allow a repeat of the appalling methods and treatment to livestock to
occur again.

From Chris Craghill

Dear Mary

I have just read, with horror, the latest on your Home page concerning the random shooting of cows that escaped a cull today, reported, to have been happening in a dreadfully cruel and inhumane way.

I now live in Essex but in 2001 lived in a fell side farming village in the Northern Fells of Cumbria. Because of what I witnessed then and the horror I experienced due to abuse of basic animal and human rights, I became actively involved with Heart of Cumbria. I was not involved in farming myself but lived as part of a great, cohesive, farming community and I felt I could not sit back and passively watch the relentless cruelty and the dismantling of a way of life.

I tried to do what I could, even going on the march from Hyde Park Corner to Downing St at the end of Aug 01 and attending various meetings within Cumbria. I really thought we could help to change the mindset of the government over vaccination and the Open Public Enquiry that we were being denied, as well as altering the adverse opinion that many Cumbrian farmers held over vaccination.

Sadly it was not to be.

On page 30 of Dr Richard North's book "The Death of British Agriculture" published late 2001, he talks about the psychological condition known as 'cognitive dissonance', a term that describes a mental state that arises when a person possesses knowledge or beliefs which conflict with a decision that he/she has made.

Richard North used this to illustrate the mismanagement of MAFF (as it then was) in their response to FMD in the 2001 epidemic, by writing that

Dr North went on to explain that For MAFF in 2001 read DEFRA in 2007. Exactly the same thing is happening again and will continue to happen. I do not believe that this government will authorise vaccination, although I pray that I am wrong. The only thing that will alter the mindset of this government would be an uprising of the farming community, and as they have been very neatly dismantled by the government, that will not happen.


Chris Craghill

From Huw Rowlands - Dear Mary

My letter has been published in today's Independent.

Best wishes,


Foot-and-mouth strikes again

Sir: So we are now suffering the second foot-and-mouth outbreak in as many months, thanks, it seems, to the boffins at the Institute of Animal Health. Taxpayers are therefore funding an establishment which has become the biggest single threat to livestock farming in the UK.

The vaccine produced at Pirbright cannot be used to protect animals against the very disease being spread by the same laboratory. Had ring vaccination been implemented in August, we would not be in the mess in which we now find ourselves. It is time that the policy of indiscriminate slaughter of animals to control disease was ended, since it has now been proven not to work. Or perhaps it would be cheaper and more in keeping with the age of spin simply to rebrand Pirbright as the Institute of Animal Death.

Huw Rowlands


From Robert Persey

Dear Mary

I have this chilling feeling that we are on the edge of something that we do not understand and are not being told about.

There is stunned dismay with a total lack of understanding in the livestock community about what is happening. Anybody who reads the forum page of the National Pig Association (NPA) will see the despair of the UK pig industry. The pressure of high feed prices, low pig prices and now the flood of imports due to FMD has taken many farmers beyond the point of no return.

However, all of these events are taking the focus away from a ticking time bomb.

Recently the Government has been allowing the composting of meat and feathers on farms in open windrows. Incredibly some of these activities are taking place on livestock farms with the connivance of state vets.

It is illegal under the provisions of the Animal By Products Order 2005 to allow this waste meat onto premises where livestock are kept.

The CVO and the Secretary of State have received photographic evidence of cattle adjacent to heaps of feathers / compost. The Environment Agency has received photographs of unprocessed feathers, rats and ponds of pollution liquor. It is neither concerned about this evidence nor complaints of foul smells.

An MEP has requested EU Commissioner Kyprianou to investigate.

I note in the VLA surveillance reports for June 2007 there was a case of botulism transferred from a heap of chicken muck 200 metres by birds and vermin to a herd of cattle.

Was nothing learned from 2001? Is nobody in authority answerable for this incompetence?

Allowing composting of waste meat in outside windrows adjacent to cattle is insanity of the highest order. These outside windrows risk an outbreak of FMD, Swine Fever or avian flu.

The virus, like the terrorist only has to get lucky once. These outside windrows also risk the spread of fungal spores (aspergillus… farmers lung) and subsequent mycrotoxin poisoning in humans and animals alike.

This country must recycle by composting rather than landfill but it must be done to a high standard. Composting should be in vessel within enclosed facilities, operating at negative air pressure with the exhausted air being chemically scrubbed.

Kind Regards

Robert Persey

From Ruth Watkins

Just to respond to some of the thoughts on Warmwell- the next slap in the face will be bluetongue. Further slaughter? To no avail. Will we be exporting live animals then? The NFU should be a powerful voice urging and facilitating a bluetongue vaccine for serotype-8, the strain which is at present dealing such a blow to Northern Europe- at least 10,000 herds and flocks affected in the last 2 months- that we have heard nothing about it on the news whilst we bicker over FMD vaccination. If an Easterly wind doth blow we will be blown away.

How very fortunate we are to have the possibility of the highly effective FMD O vaccine based on the very virus that is causing our present outbreak. How unlucky we are that this very virus has emerged from Pirbright- the accident waiting to happen by the state of the Pirbright site which cannot have been truthfully called containment level 4 for at least 3 years. Surely it is not beyond the wit of man and woman to create a vaccination zone in the South of England and try and return farming to near normality in the rest of Britain? When we discussed vaccination in 2001 the logical outcome to arguments on vaccination 'yes or no' was that it makes more sense to make the time to export longest when vaccination is not used. It is much more dangerous to have full blown infections out there and their high potential for transmission.

yours sincerely


(Warmwell's Bluetongue page is here)

From Michael Greaves



Hope this finds you well.


If one was looking for a reason why DEFRA may have prematurely ended the earlier restriction orders, it might lie in the wider world of politics:


1.       There has been a lot of speculation, based on favourable opinion polls, that Brown might want to have an election this Autumn (which would probably have a maximum window of the end of October as the hours of daylight then become so much shorter which is thought to inhibit voting levels);


2.     The Governments angle appears to be (a) August outbreak not our fault but down to an arcane argument over land law as to whose responsibility the maintenance of drains @ Pirbright is and (b) unlike 2001, which was all that horrible man Blairs fault, this time we have been absolutely brilliant and dynamic and by resolute, firm action, led by our Glorious and Great Leader, has put a rapid and complete end to this terrible scourge and we have saved the countryside (so vote for us!);



3.       In addition having these restriction may, as in 2001, give the dastardly opposition the chance to demand that no election be held because of the impact it might have on canvassing in rural areas which would hit opposition parties a lot harder than it would hit Labour, thus dashing a really good chance to give them a thumping.


Although the possibility of an election has somewhat gone off the boil, a consummate operator like Brown would not want to be deprived of the opportunity of going for a GE, if , for example, Cameron really put his foot in it one day (which one fears is always a possibility). Thus he may have taken steps to keep his options open at the same time as burnishing his Halo.


The fact that this is one of the busiest times of the year for selling this years animals may have led to pressure also from other quarters


This from the DT @ :

Foot and mouth 'may have spread further'

By Gordon Rayner, Chief Reporter

Last Updated: 7:46am BST 14/09/2007


"Farmers are facing the prospect that foot and mouth could already have spread across the south of England after it emerged that the latest outbreak started at the site of an agricultural show. During the August bank holiday more than 5,000 people visited the Egham Royal Show, which was held on the field where foot and mouth was found in cattle on Wednesday.If, as is suspected, the virus was already present in the field at the time of the show, it could have been transferred to other sites on muddy car tyres..."



Will have the blood running cold in the countryside today.


The politicians are furiously denying they put any pressure on Reynolds, but the question should now be put: was it premature? Prima Facie, the answer must be yes, given the virus survivability in some media. If there is, as I suggest, a prima facie case against Brown, Benn et al, then it is now incumbent upon them to demonstrate that it was not premature and that they did not put pressure on for political reasons. If they cannot do this then someone must, surely, resign, though this government does not have any record at all of resignation for being incompetent (eg in DEFRA Beckett got promoted to the FCO and Lord Bach who presided over the Farm Payments Fiasco had to be sacked) , so your readers would do well not to hold their breath in anticipation.


As ever







From Hilary Peters (whose real food diary (new window) is a joy)

Dear Mary,

Of course we need to change the policy and vaccinate. I am shocked but not surprised that the government have held out against it for so long.

BUT we need to change more than a policy.
We need to change our whole attitude to animals.

Foot and Mouth is not a dreadful disease.

It's not the disease but the disease free status that worries our law makers.

It's all about money.

The national obsession with productivity is destroying farming.



More from Norm in Australia who is spending quite some time figuring out what may have happened

Preliminary tests show the latest outbreak of foot-and-mouth involves the same strain as that which infected herds last month, BBC News understands.
Ok, we now may have to consider the unthinkable.
The first task I would carry out is - Who left Merial at the end of July?
Then - talk to the remaining employees and see if there is any scuttlebutt. If nobody wishes to dob someone in  (inform on someone, for UK readers) then a bit of US waterboarding should be closely looked at!
Recommendation 8. As a matter of urgency, Defra should require that
actions are taken to ensure the effluent drainage system at the Pirbright
facility is fully contained and its continuing integrity confirmed by regular
inspections. In the interim, we advise that work with infectious virus should
only be allowed if effluent released into the pipes has first been completely
If infectious FMDV is released into the effluent pipe (as suggested by their Site
Director), leakage into the soil surrounding the effluent pipe from Merial is likely
to have occurred for months and probably years, and yet the 2007 FMD outbreak
is the only one that has occurred around Pirbright. Thus for this scenario there
may have been some special feature that resulted in live FMDV being released
from the drainage system and becoming a hazard.
One possibility is that FMDV was brought to the surface by a rise in the water
table during the exceptionally heavy rains on and around the 20 July. FMDV has
been shown to be able to survive in soil for three days in warm weather and
about four weeks in cold weather (Animal Health Australia 2002). In the relatively
cool summer weather during the infection window (the highest temperature
recorded in the Pirbright area over this period was 22.5oC) the virus should have
been able to survive in soil for several days.
A further possibility, identified by the HSE inspection of the drainage system, is
contamination resulting from overflow of effluent from a manhole onto the surface
of the ground. The period that discharge of O1 BFS virus into the effluent system
may have occurred coincided with groundwork on the site, including heavy lorry
221 Throughout the period under investigation, work was undertaken to remove soil
and subsoil from the new roadway and lay a new surface. Some of the material was
removed from site to a number of locations in the local area. Other material was used
elsewhere on site. The roadway was widened in the area around Merials effluent sump,
passed close to where the excavation shown in Figure 5 was located and crossed the
effluent drains leading from the IAH facility. This is shown in Figure 6. On 20 July work
on the roadway was affected by the heavy rainfall: a small trench was dug at this time
to try and divert water away from the portacabin facility used by the contractors in the
vicinity of the road.
Where do the occupants of the portacabin call home? - Norm
235 We did identify that on 20 July and 25 July, soil and subsoil was removed from the
Pirbright site and taken to three locations:
  • a landfill site at Compton near Guildford;
  • a topsoil grading company at Wrecclesham; and
  • a construction site in Basingstoke.
All going in the wrong direction for this current case. - Norm
236 We identified that the route taken to Compton from the Pirbright site included
Westwood Lane in Normandy, close to the first affected farm and known to be used by
the farmer and visitors. This route is shown in Figure 7.
237 We established that on 20 July, four 32-tonne trucks (believed to be 4-axle
vehicles) transported 15-tonne loads of uncovered subsoil from the Pirbright site to
Compton using this route. During this time both the Pirbright site and roads en-route
were subject to flooding.
238 We established that on 25 July, two 32-tonne trucks transported 15-tonne loads
of subsoil by the same route. The road conditions on this day were dry.
239 In addition to these category 1 vehicles, we also investigated the routes used on
site by a number of vehicles visiting both the IAH and Merial sites. This included a feed
lorry, a cattle trailer and a large goods vehicle parked in floodwater on 20 July.
240 We also investigated whether a vehicle wash facility in the Normandy area had
been used to wash any plant used at the Pirbright site.
241 We found no further evidence of category 1 vehicle movements that provided a
link between Pirbright and Normandy during the period covered by our investigation.
242 We believe that the movement of material contaminated with live FMDV virus
O1 BFS along Westwood Lane provides a credible link between the Pirbright site and
the first affected farm.
243 We conclude that it is likely that soil and/or materials contaminated with
live FMDV strain O1 BFS was removed from the Pirbright site between
20 and 25 July 2007.
244 We conclude that this represents a breach to the biosecurity arrangements
at the IAH site.
245 We conclude that it is likely that vehicles contaminated with this soil passed
down Westwood Lane close to the first affected farm
246 We conclude that this occurred within the time period advised by Defra as
being the most likely period of initial exposure of cows at the first affected farm
to FMDV strain O1 BFS.
247 Considering all the other evidence we obtained during our investigation, we
conclude that this is the most likely mechanism by which the first affected farm
became infected with FMD.
3.3 Survival of FMDV in the environment
Survival of FMDV in the environment will depend upon the nature of the material
containing it; the initial concentration of virus in the material; the strain of virus; the
humidity; the pH and the temperature, and will therefore be highly variable under field
conditions. However some reported examples are: up to 20 weeks on hay or straw;
up to 14 days in dry faeces; up to 39 days in urine; up to 6 months in slurry; up to 3
days on soil in summer and 28 days on soil in autumn. Survival has been reported up
to 50 days in water (Mahnel et al. 1977).
Would that be water in a lab, in a slow running watercourse or a raging stream after a flood??????????????????
Hoo Roo

From Norm Coates

Morning Mary,
It is all getting a bit interesting again!
The stream that runs under Tickner's Bridge runs into the Stanford Brook, Hoe Stream, River Wey and onward to the Thames.  ref "Tickners Bridge" -
Stanford Brook eventually merges with The Wey just south of Woking (one of the current Defra problem areas ref declaration-pzsz120907.pdf)
Now going back to the finalreport.pdf we find mentioned -
Surface water drains
For the IAH site, which occupies a much larger surface area, the drainage is fed
towards the surface water unit, which is a series of buried open-topped concrete
tanks. Should this become full, it overflows into a small lagoon. This allows water to be
held up before discharge into the Stanford Brook. This system has been in place since
the 1950s when there was a greater focus on the waterborne transfer of virus.
Site drainage characteristics
Site setting
The site is located in a broad valley bottom area at an elevation of between 35 m and
40 m AOD. The site is relatively flat in nature with a gentle slope from east to west. The
site is bounded to the west and south by a small stream (the Stanford Brook) which
runs in a southerly direction, before turning east and heading towards the sewage
works located between Bullswater Common and Merrist Hill (see Figure 12).
Site geology
The site is underlain by the Lower Bagshot beds, which are a series of sands and
clays of shallow-water origin, some being fresh water, some marine. They belong to
the upper Eocene formation of the London and Hampshire basin. The lower division
consists of pale yellow, current-bedded sand and loam, with layers of pipe clay and
occasional beds of flint pebbles. During the site inspection, material which had been
excavated on site was examined and found to be consistent with this description.
Drainage paths
The primary run off from paved areas on the site enters surface water drains, which
either discharge into the public sewer (Merial site), or into the surface water facility on
the IAH site. Groundwater will tend to migrate naturally towards the Stanford Brook,
which forms the western and southern boundary of the site, through natural percolation
and run off, dependent on the levels of extant saturation when rainfall occurs.
When inspecting the site, it was observed that there was pooling around various areas
of the site, and it was three to four days since it had rained. In addition, there are a
series of excavations on site which showed varying levels of water within them. This is
consistent with the expected behaviour of material that contains elements with highly
variable permeability.
It should also be noted that the presence of gravel bedding around engineered effluent
or surface water drains will act as a conduit for ground water by virtue of its greater
porosity. This may lead to the drainage routes acting as inadvertent land drainage.
Flooding history
The Environment Agency has undertaken some flood risk studies and has published
them on their website. Figure 12 shows their predictions for flooding in an approximate
1 in 75 year event. This shows lower sections of the site potentially inundated as a
result of the Stanford Brook levels rising, however, the inundation is limited in inactive
areas of the site.
During extreme rainfall, eg on 20 August 2007, there was some localised site flooding,
for example, on the Merial yard, where the failure of the surface water drains to
cope led to depths estimated at up to 100 mm on a concrete yard area. There is no
evidence of flooding affecting contained facilities.
So was the initial deposit at Westwood Lane so large that after a month and a half the virus has struck at Woking with nothing happening between? Or, is this current event caused by groundwater runoff into the Stanford Brook and then transported (one and a half months later) downstream? Or, did transported debris from the Pirbright site pass one of the current FMD sites?
One and a half months later???????????????
Hoo Roo

From Rosemary Brown

Dear Mary

Farmers must be totally devastated by this latest FMD outbreak, just when restrictions had been lifted over the rest of the UK. Surely it must now be obvious to the 'powers that be' that vaccination is the only way that this and other diseases can be eradicated.

It is high time that we campaigned for World-wide vaccination against FMD. Even if DEFRA is not interested in the UK farming community, who do at least receive some financial compensation, surely we ought to consider third world farmers, to whom an FMD outbreak could well mean starvation for their families.

Countries such as Argentina and Brazil, which maintain FMD-free status by virtue of a national vaccination programme do not appear to have problems exporting their produce and if vaccination was the norm. throughout the world, UK farmers who are so badly advised by their leaders and many vets, would have no fear of exports suffering. We have the technologies for fast diagnosis and effective vaccination, but we still continue to use our antiquated methods of disease 'control'.

Let us hope that the farming community show their dissatisfaction with the current arrangements by campaighning for a national vaccination progress.


Ro Brown

From Huw Rowlands

Dear Mary,

These points may already have been made by others, but there seem to be two conclusions to be drawn from the latest fmd fiasco. If this is a new and unrelated outbreak, which seems unlikely, then Pirbright should be closed down. If it is a continuation of the August outbreak then it vindicates the argument in favour of ring vaccination.

I am still waiting or someone to explain to me the logic of having a laboratory funded by taxpayers (i.e. US) containing these viruses so that it can produce vaccines against them, when not only are we not permitted to use aforesaid vaccines, but also the laboratory itself appears to have become the greatest danger in recent years to livestock farming in the U.K.

Keep up the excellent work.
Yours in extreme frustration and anger.

Huw Rowlands

From Robert Persey

Dear Mary.

A lady who read my email on warmwell about the risks of composting meat lives in S. Devon next door to a composting site and she breeds dogs. She is now losing 80% of her puppies and nobody knows why. She is convinced it is because of the nearby open air composting centre. She tells me that Torbay hospital is finding increased numbers of Alzheimer's cases and a report is due. She claims that she and her husband are suffering from chest complaints.

I know too of a farming family in the north of England who started losing cattle in June 2006 and have now lost a substantial number. Post-mortems by the Regional vet lab have yielded no results, and because it appears not to be a known notifiable disease, they are at a loss.

As soon as the symptoms strike, the animal stops eating and drinking and dies on the fifth day.

They now intend to send all the information to the CVO together with the location of all the composting sites around where they farm - and it is known as the composting triangle. They are the only cattle breeders in the area.

Composting of meat is a new industry and so a June 2006 start for these deaths sounds suspicious.

I believe a hostile submission about the proposed composting of meat was written by a former CVO during the consultation process. I have been writing to Debby Reynolds for the last six months expressing concerns over low standards at certain meat composting sites. I would value comments from any of your readers who believe that they, or their stock are suffering as a result of a nearby meat composting centre.

I strongly believe that supermarket meat in packaging is still going to landfill.

Kind Regards


August 15th 207 From John Tuck Wiltshire farmer

Dear Mary,

There are several references on the Warmwell website to shortage of funding for IAH Pirbright in particular and for DEFRA's contingency plans in general.

Has this anything to do with Gordon Brown's decision as Chancellor of the Exchequer to recoup £300+ million from the DEFRA budget? This sum was with held from the UK by the EU as punishment for the the Rural Payments Agency's failure in past years to distribute Single Farm Payments within the allotted time?

Keep up the good work.


John Tuck Highgate Farm, Wootton Bassett, Swindon

(Thank you John. We 'couldn't possibly comment' - but here is our page on the RPA fiasco)

August 15 From Mary Marshall, participant in the EU-funded FMD & CSF Coordination Action

Dear Mary,

 As I have written earlier, rapid diagnostic technology is available, but for these tests to be used on a wide scale and in the field, the government must take active measures.

These include funding to the government labs for reagents and for deployment, and working together with the commercial companies who may not consider that sufficient use will be made of their products to justify investment without government support. 

To what extent has the government provided the necessary funding and ongoing support to the labs?  Why has the use of field and region-based tests not been included in current contingency plans?  An explanation of the processes involved by those involved, and what can be done to minimize the technical time required, would be appreciated.

 On a more positive note, I understand that the capability for NSP testing post-vaccination is fully ready and operational.

 Below are some relevant recent publications on real-time RT-PCR for the diagnosis of FMD.  Importantly, (from the first reference):

 "This more rapid and economical one-step protocol will play a key role in contingency planning for any future outbreaks of FMD in the United Kingdom (UK)."

Best wishes

Mary Marshall


Shaw AE, Reid SM, Ebert K, Hutchings GH, Ferris NP, King DP.

Implementation of a one-step real-time RT-PCR protocol for diagnosis of foot-and-mouth disease.

J Virol Methods. 2007 Jul;143(1):81-5. Epub 2007 Mar 29.


Abstract: An automated one-step real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (rRT-PCR) protocol was optimised and evaluated for the routine diagnosis of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD). Parallel testing of RNA samples (n=257) indicated that this assay has a diagnostic sensitivity at least equivalent to the automated two-step rRT-PCR protocol previously used for the laboratory detection of FMD virus (FMDV). This more rapid and economical one-step protocol will play a key role in contingency planning for any future outbreaks of FMD in the United Kingdom (UK).




King DP, Ferris NP, Shaw AE, Reid SM, Hutchings GH, Giuffre AC, Robida JM, Callahan JD, Nelson WM, Beckham TR.

 Detection of foot-and-mouth disease virus: comparative diagnostic sensitivity of two independent real-time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction assays.

J Vet Diagn Invest. 2006 Jan;18(1):93-7.


Abstract: Rapid and accurate diagnosis is central to the effective control of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD). It is now recognized that reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) assays can play an important role in the routine detection of FMD virus (FMDV) in clinical samples. The aim of this study was to compare the ability of 2 independent real-time RT-PCR (rRT-PCR) assays targeting the 5'  untranslated region (5'UTR) and RNA polymerase (3D) to detect FMDV in clinical samples. There was concordance between the results generated by the 2 assays for 88.1% (347 of 394) of RNA samples extracted from suspensions of epithelial tissue obtained from suspect FMD cases. The comparison between the 2 tests highlighted 19 FMDV isolates (13 for the 5'UTR and 6 for the 3D assay), which failed to produce a signal in 1 assay but gave a positive signal in the other. The sequence of the genomic targets of selected isolates highlighted nucleotide substitutions in the primer or probe regions, thereby providing an explanation for negative results generated in the rRT-PCR assays. These data illustrate the importance of the continuous monitoring of circulating FMDV field strains to ensure the design of the rRT-PCR assay remains fit for purpose and suggest that the use of multiple diagnostic targets could further enhance the sensitivity of molecular methods for the detection of FMDV.


Further reading:


Ferris NP, King DP, Reid SM, Shaw AE, Hutchings GH.

 Comparisons of original laboratory results and retrospective analysis by real-time reverse transcriptase-PCR of virological samples collected from confirmed cases of foot-and-mouth disease in the UK in 2001.

Vet Rec. 2006 Sep 16;159(12):373-8.


Ferris NP, King DP, Reid SM, Hutchings GH, Shaw AE, Paton DJ, Goris N, Haas B, Hoffmann B, Brocchi E, Bugnetti M, Dekker A, De Clercq K.

Foot-and-mouth disease virus: a first inter-laboratory comparison trial to evaluate virus isolation and RT-PCR detection methods.

Vet Microbiol. 2006 Oct 31;117(2-4):130-40. Epub 2006 Jul 17.


Reid SM, Parida S, King DP, Hutchings GH, Shaw AE, Ferris NP, Zhang Z, Hillerton JE, Paton DJ.

Utility of automated real-time RT-PCR for the detection of foot-and-mouth disease virus excreted in milk.

Vet Res. 2006 Jan-Feb;37(1):121-32.




15 Aug From Peter and Suzanne Greenhill


My scanner doesn't do newsprint so here is a transcript of the letter to the Daily Telegraph which was published on 14th. August:-

Aug 14 From Michael Greaves. A refreshing bit of candour here as well as thoughtful deduction and first-hand investigation


I have now tracked down the local councillor for the ward in which the first and second outbreaks took place.

Her email reads:

Looking at the Coates Map I would now accept that that is the best piece of evidence.

Given that the allotments also border the stream, it seems to me that the proximity of the allotments at which a scientist from Pirbright has a holding to the first outbreak must make this the absolutely prime candidate for the means of infection. It would not be difficult for virus negligently or deliberately conveyed to the allotments to transfer to the field by being waterborne or animal borne.

So my wrong square theory and uphill water theories are 'down the drain' if that is not an unfortunate choice of phrase!

Oh, well, back to the drawing board.

Having looked at a lot of the press reporting, I have been struck at how very sloppy much of it has been with huge inaccuracies. Actually, it is not difficult, if you persevere, to get it right. As a Barrister I often used to read reports of cases I had been in and wonder if I had a doppelganger who had been in another court completely, so poor was the reporter's grasp of the facts! It just needs a bit of intellectual rigour.



Thank you very much for this. Re your comment "Having looked at a lot of the press reporting, I have been struck at how very sloppy much of it has been - with huge inaccuracies". we think there have been exceptions, but we too notice that facts are not checked, quotation tends to come from sources used in the bad old 2001 days - while comment explaining the case for immediate emergency vaccination seems very thin on the ground indeed. Sabotage is seized upon as a dramatic angle for stories about the source - but it would be an odd sort of saboteur who refrained from distributing the virus far and wide. Its appearance so near to Pirbright can only really suggest accident. Thank you again for following this up so assiduously

Rosemary Brown, veterinary nurse, has written to warmwell a letter also posted today on the farmtalking internet forum

August 13 2007

Having been employed as a veterinary nurse for nearly thirty years, I have always been rather disappointed that so many veterinary surgeons seem to be very dogmatic with regard to such problems as FMD ( very few seem to accept that there are any alternative methods of controlling this devastating disease other than wholesale destruction). It is therefore very refreshing to read Andrew Stephens views (as in the information here) on the subject. I seem to remember that during the 2001 epidemic he was almost the only V/S advocating vaccination.

As I understand it, there are three levels of FMD-free status, two of which involve vaccination. Several South American countries where FMD is actually endemic, maintain FMD-free status by virtue of a national vaccination program. Argentina and Brazil both maintain FMD-free status through the vaccination route and they seem to have few problems exporting their products. I don't often eat such things as corned beef but yesterday needed a quick snack and opened a tin. I happened to glance at the label and discovered that it was produced in Brazil for John West Foods of Liverpool.

I don't know whether I have missed out on some vital piece of information, but I fail to see why our farmers are going to suffer for months yet because of the ban on exporting British meat, when we are importing from countries where vaccination is the norm. After all, numerous fatal diseases in humans and animals have been eliminated by the use of vaccines. Perhaps someone can tell me what is so different about FMD. Having many friends within the farming community, I know the devastation felt by those who lost all their stock in the 2001 outbreak, but many people do seem to have been brainwashed by the experts into believing that there is no alternative to slaughter.

With modern communication, the world is shrinking fast and one can foresee that outbreaks of FMD could be a regular occurrence.With the present methods of dealing with such a situation, even if it is controlled quickly, as in the present outbreak, the damage to our economy, not to mention the morale of the farming community, will be a constant anxiety to everyone. Surely more money will be lost to the economy due to several months ban on exports, than would be lost through having to sell meat from vaccinated stock at a slightly lower price. .

One other point. Is it not morally wrong, when half the third world is living in poverty, for us to be destroying animals without the disease but as possible dangerous contacts? During the 2001 epidemic only a very small percentage of the stock slaughtered were actually infected with FMD.

Ro Brown VN

From Dr Paul Sutmoller, Chair of the Animal Health Committee ELA - European Livestock Association, wrote to the Sunday Times to reply to Sir Brian Follett's article. He has invited warmwell to reproduce it in its full version here.


 In the Sunday Times of the 5th of August, Sir Brian Follett (who chaired the Royal Society inquiry into livestock diseases that followed the 2001 FMD outbreak) states on page 3 that "A vaccinated animal is protected against developing symptoms but may be a carrier - so such animals cannot be moved".

Sir Brian Follett is wrong when he suggests that vaccinated animals constitute a danger, because they may be carrying FMD virus.

Unfortunately, in spite of all the evidence to the contrary, the idea that FMD carriers represent a considerable risk of transmission of the disease appears to be persistent and remains up to the present the basis for current rules and regulations for international trade in animals and animal product.

 In addition, because of the trade consequences, the fact that a vaccinated animal can also become a carrier has practically banned the use of vaccines when appropriate in outbreak situations.

Many European countries go rid of FMD in the fifties and sixties of the 20th Century thanks to annual vaccination of their cattle. They were forced to stop this annual vaccination in 1991 because Ireland, Denmark and the UK wanted them to.

For ten years Europe did all right. And then, 2001 came with at least 12 billion euros' damage to farming and the rural economies of the UK, Ireland, France and the Netherlands.

Sir Follett is also wrong when he states that vaccinated animals cannot be moved. The EU directive 2003/85/EC allows movement of vaccinated animals within national borders after six months after an outbreak of FMD.

 What are the scientific facts? Vaccination by itself does not cause the carrier state. A vaccinated animal must be exposed to FMD virus to become a carrier. No evidence of outbreaks caused by vaccinated carriers has ever been observed nor have they hampered FMD eradication efforts anywhere in the world.

The outbreaks that happened because of animal-to-animal contact were always caused by animals with active infection, originating from endemic or sporadically infected areas or from active foci.

Sheep are of particular importance because of their involvement in the 2001 UK FMD episode. However, the absence of virus transmission by carriers among sheep and goats is well documented. Recovered small ruminants have not acted as a source of infection to initiate new cases of FMD, neither under natural conditions anywhere in the world nor under experimental conditions. Carrier goats never have shown to infect susceptible livestock.

 If FMD vaccine is used to control and eradicate an outbreak there are tests to discriminate between carriers and vaccinated animals. These tests have been widely used and the results are, in general, internationally accepted.

 In addition, vaccines prepared from purified antigens as present in the international vaccine banks, will not induce antibody to non-specific proteins (NSP) that interfere with the interpretation of the serological surveys.

Thus, if an FMD outbreak is controlled by vaccination, testing for antibodies against non-structural proteins amongst vaccinated livestock could determine if a vaccinated herd would contain FMD carriers. The hypothetical risk of vaccinated carriers can be further reduced by a serological survey for anti-virus antibodies in animals in the non-vaccinated surveillance zone around the vaccination zone. Those results, together with the results of the a-NSP test, would verify the FMD-free status of the area.

 Otterlo, The Netherlands, August 7, 2007 Dr. Paul Sutmoller Chair, Animal Health Committee ELA - European Livestock Association



From Andrés Perez at the FMD Surveillance, University of California at Davis - commenting on his own paper posted by Mary Marshall, below

Glad the paper contributes to discussion --that was the major objective.

One of the major conclusions emerging from the paper is that it is possible to have a strategy based on active sampling of bulk tank milk in place. And that's not a minor conclusion.

PCR parameters were based on the results of experiments (published or not) done at Pirbright and at Plum Island. It seems to me that the detection limit that experts in both labs believe that will be able to reach with this technology is not a problem.

I am not aware of the costs or of how long would take to develop this technology at a mass scale. But my feeling (and please note that this is just a feeling) is that this technology is at a stage in which testing in the field would be appropriate and recommendable.

And if we do not take opportunities like this one to do so, and therefore, to validate the tests, then when?

In other words, to have a complete/full answer to your questions the only way to do it is by taking opportunities like this one to test this kind of alternative approaches --even if one does not use them at the moment, these testing will open the door to refine and polish methods and strategies and have them ready to go for the next time (BTW, we all know that there will be a next time).

Regarding the strategy for sampling (or which farms to sample), bear in mind that we are considering here RT-PCR, which allows for on-site analysis and interpretation of the results.

My personal opinion is that a targeted strategy (prioritizing sampling of farms perceived to be at higher risk) would be the way to go. And there are many ways of doing that, briefly, assigning different probabilities of sampling (something like a score or likelihood scale) based on the risk or probability that a farm is FMD-infected (in opposition to the traditional random sampling that assigns the same probability to all the farms in the region).

Certainly many things to discuss/decide, but on the other hand, there are tons of possible solutions.

Two last things, first, if people in the labs believe that this technology is not still ready to go this time (because, eg, it has not been validated) it would still be a very good idea to collect milk samples from the farms (the infected and the non-infected) and analyze them now, or if too overwhelmed by other issues at this point, at least freeze them and analyze them later, to see how the tests would have performed and to design the most sensitive sampling strategy (if they did not collect samples yet, now it is probably too late).

But something we can do is to make sure that after this experience is gone, one of the conclusions should be that next time we should collect samples in milk from the beginning and even if still not used to make decisions, at least use those samples to validate the tests (because, we all know that the next epidemic will not be the last one neither).

Second, regarding the model we have published, the model was particularly sensitive to the level of virus shedding in milk. One would expect that certain virus strains will be more virulent than others, and that the amount of shedding and time to start shedding will vary among strains, so certain strains would certainly be detected faster than others and some strains may even not be detected.

Hope this helps.



From Mary Marshall

Dear Mary,

With regard to milk testing, last month Andrés Perez kindly sent me details of an article he had co-authored on the use of bulk tank milk testing for detection of FMD virus. He had sent this to me for posting on the open FMD &CSF Coordination Action website, but unfortunately the website has been unavailable and so I was unable to post it. As the website has not yet been restored, and given the current outbreak and discussions on warmwell, I wanted to bring this important paper to wider attention with some extracts below. Readers are encouraged to refer to the published paper.

Modeled detection time for surveillance for foot-and-mouth disease virus in bulk tank milk

Mark C. Thurmond DVM, PhD; Andrés M. Perez DVM, PhD
Center for Animal Diseases Modeling and Surveillance Department of Medicine and Epidemiology School of Veterinary Medicine University of California, Davis, CA 95616

Objective--- To estimate when foot-and-mouth disease virus (FMDV) would first be detected in bulk tank milk of dairies following exposure to FMDV. Sample Population--- Hypothetical dairy herds milking 100, 500, or 1,000 cows

Procedures--- For each day after herd exposure to FMDV, infection, milk yield, and virolactia were simulated for individual cows for low and high rates of intraherd transmission to estimate when a PCR assay would detect virus in bulk tank milk. Detection limits were based on assumptions for the number of virus genomes per milliliter of milk and for analytical sensitivity of a PCR assay.

Results--- A mean of 10% of the cows was predicted to have FMD lesions from 7 to 8 days and from 13.5 to 15 days after herd exposure for herds with high and low intraherd transmission rates, respectively. Herd bulk milk volume decreased by 10% by 8.5 to 9.5 days and by 15 to 16.5 days after herd exposure for herds with high and low transmission rates, respectively. Mean times by which FMDV would be first detected in bulk milk were 2.5 days and 6.5-to-8 days after herd exposure, which were extended 10 to 11 days and 17 to 18 days, for herds with high and low transmission rates, respectively.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance--- PCR screening of bulk milk for FMDV would likely detect FMDV in dairy herds several days sooner than might be expected for owner reporting of clinical signs and thus should be worthy of consideration for regional, national, or global FMD surveillance.

Thurmond MC, Perez AM. Modeled detection time for surveillance for foot-and-mouth disease virus in bulk tank milk. Am J Vet Res 2006;67;2017-2024.

Mary Marshall, Participant in the EU-funded FMD & CSF Coordination Action

From Norm Coates


You can see the pale blue/green/ultramarine colour running through the culvert under Westwood Lane, past the allotments, through Walden's Copse, under Glazier's Lane, Down the hill towards Willey Green and then through the culvert at Tickner's Bridge and into the River Wey.

Sorry about all the excess artifacts on this image but it was a bugger to copy them from the original site :-)

Stream may have spread foot and mouth -

The Telegraph (Last Updated: 12:35am BST 12/08/2007) "The investigation into the foot and mouth outbreak is now focusing on a stream running through the two infected farms....." .
Another thought hit me overnight! When the flooded stream rushed through the culvert at Tickner's Green it would have been like a washing machine and cleansed/diluted the water gushing through to the River Wey.


At almost the same moment we received this from Michael Greaves but he thinks the stream flows in the wrong direction for spread to have been possible. Who is right? (See email From Michael Greaves received after the one below)

Dear Mary

The S. Telegraph has this today:

I had understood the allotment to be just east of the Wyke-Flexford Road, East Wyke Farm being to the west thereof. My map still shows that the stream DESCENDS from the 60 meter contour near the A323 and flows east crossing the yellow N-S road at a point where the 50 metre contour also intersects.

On Google earth you can see the allotments very nicely. So we still have the canard about water that flows uphill.

I can accept animal transfer here, the distance being short, but the water story is daft.


Michael Greaves

(BUT see subsequent email From Michael Greaves )

From Ruth Watkins MRCP MRCPath (Specialist in Clinical Virology).

Dear Mary

Why is vaccination not discussed openly by DEFRA. doc. (open document here)

I hope the image of the box - and neutralising antibodies keeping it shut - is vivid.

Neutralisation seems to lock RNA into the picornaviridae viruses so that even if the neutralised virus enters a cell with the antibody attached, (perhaps as little as one molecule of antibody per virus though there are about 60 identical neutralising sites on a virus if I recall correctly), the RNA does not emerge out of the virus in the cell so there is no new virus formation. Infection of that cell does not occur.

I do hope we have been lucky and this FMD outbreak will go no futher.


From Mary Marshall, Participant in the EU-funded FMD & CSF Coordination Action (

Dear Mary,

(Please note that what follows are my personal views.)

In answer to your question about the testing of susceptible animals within the protection zone, and therefore presumably at Hunts Hill farm, I understand that cows and pigs have only been clinically inspected and not tested for virus for the reason that these animals show signs of infection, and that blood samples have only been taken from sheep for the reason that sheep can be infected without showing signs of infection. This practice should be challenged.

In the Today programme broadcast, I believe Mr Emerson said that there were thorough clinical inspections every day, but that only on the third day, and after the suspicious signs appeared in one of the pigs, were samples taken to be tested for virus. The animals were, I believe, slaughtered before the test results were obtained.

Why were samples not taken as part of the inspections, from the first day and subsequent days, from ALL of the susceptible animals on a contiguous farm, especially if Defra considers the animals on these farms to be of such high risk?

If the slaughter of healthy animals is to be avoided, in addition to the need for livestock keepers to maintain strict and proportionate biosecurity measures, I suggest that the government should learn two important lessons from this outbreak:

  1. All footpaths must be closed in the protection zone and, at least initially, also in the surveillance zone

  2. All susceptible animals on contiguous holdings should be tested for virus. Samples can be obtained by taking blood, but also non-invasively from the nose and from milk.

    The advantage of testing for virus is that infection can be detected before clinical signs appear.

    If tests from samples had been taken from Mr Emerson's animals on the two previous days and if no virus had been found, then there would have been no justification to have slaughtered all of the animals. Continued isolation and monitoring would have been appropriate.

    From reports, it appears that on one of the infected farms, one of the cows that tested positive had shown no clinical signs. I believe therefore that, in parallel to asking livestock keepers to inspect their animals and to be vigilant for signs of disease, the government has a responsibility to use the technologies that can identify disease before signs appear if these technologies are available. They are available, and they are being used in the lab.

    In this unusual outbreak, when the animals are located so close to the lab that has the latest diagnostic devices with high-throughput capacity, and where there are no problems of rapidly transporting the samples to the lab, why were samples not taken for rapid initial diagnosis, as a powerful tool to supplement clinical inspection?

    With regard to vaccination, I would add another lesson to be learned:

  3. If we had a surveillance programme that tested susceptible animals for virus in a ring just outside the surveillance zone, then spread outside the surveillance zone would be detected much more rapidly than by relying on clinical inspection alone. If virus is detected outside the surveillance zone, vaccination should then be automatically triggered. If no virus is detected outside the surveillance zone over several days, possibly coupled with more widespread testing of milk, then an easing of movement restrictions in other regions of the UK would be justified.
As the ProMED moderator commented today ( "In the past -- that is, pre-1980 -- when we killed "contact" herds it was not questioned and laboratory techniques then could not have handled the volumes of samples. Today all that is different and thousands of samples are run each day. This brings home the point that the laboratory must move into the field and test animals quickly before irreversible actions are taken."

To implement the diagnostic policies that I suggest, the government must be committed to provide a 21st century biocontainment facility as part of a national disease control strategy and ensure that their labs have sufficient resources and funding to function effectively.

Mary Marshall

Mary Marshall invites all readers to contribute to the website, when it is restored, at

From Peter Greenhill, Chairman, Mitchells Auction Company, Cockermouth


With the email system filling up at a rate not seen since FMD 2001, I am having difficulties in catching up with things - although the issue of PCRs interested me.

Nick and I discussed it this morning. We were both at a meeting in 2001 ( which Nick helped organise) which had as guest speakers Simon Barteling, Prof Fred Brown and Paul Sutmoller and you don't get a more important F&M collection than those three. They came to Penrith and then headed off to London ostensibly to see Blair but ended up ( I think) with Lord Whitty (Peter accidentally wrote "Witless" here)
Fred brought with him a (on-site rapid diagnostic) PCR and explained that he had offered a machine of this type to MAFF (sic) early in the FMD outbreak for validation. Fred at that time was still at Plum Island.
The eventual (and snotty) response from MAFF was that they were too busy to do comparative verification testing! As Fred pointed out, what better time could there be than a full-blown FMD outbreak? I may be wrong but Fred went on to say that Pirbright eventually borrowed his machine but broke it - allegedly whilst dismantling it to see how it worked.

I have a full transcript of that meeting if anyone is interested as it raised some very interesting points not least of which the fact that Simon Barteling had a responsibility for what he called The European Vaccine bank which had "adequate supplies" of FMD vaccine and to which the UK was permitted to ask for supplies. So why are we still faffing around hopping that Pirbright can produce the stuff?
Clearly these men all knew that using an on-site PCR to check quickly for FMD is a practice in almost every country which has livestock. At that time we did not fully comprehend that MAFF/DEFRA were so completely incompetent so the full force of these remarks were not flagged up by everyone.

Today Suzanne looked up her notes on a conversation with the Argentine Embassy after the leader of one of the so-called Blair Three Inquiries led by the Royal Society said ( at another meeting in Carlisle) that the Argentine did not use vaccination. Wrong again. They had a serious outbreak in 2001 and we had the full details from the Commercial Attaché who had been involved in it ( or so he said) Suzanne's point was to make a comparison with the Surrey outbreak and the fact that DEFRA had destroyed more than 500 cattle, most of which were 'on suspicion'

Argentina has 51,400,000 cattle on 245,436 farms. The vaccine was supplied to all farmers who carried out the vaccination themselves. Farmers are not compensated for their losses. The total number of cattle exposed to FMD was 2,282,614 on 2,116 farms. The number of cattle with diagnosed FMD was 189,842 of which 694 beasts were destroyed on welfare grounds.

So the score is as follows:

Perhaps we should start becoming a backward country as being smart don't get you nowhere!!


August 10 From Dr Colin Fink, Virologist & Hon. Senior Lecturer in Biological Sciences University of Warwick

Dear Mary,

Debbie Reynold's latest briefing seemed to be reasonably coherent . However , the present 'no vaccination' strategy , makes no acknowledgment of the possibility of wild life vectors who do not, I believe, have cognisance of a 3 km exclusion zone nor 10 km protection zones.

Also the present policy assumes one distribution of virus by primary intent only ( ? accident ? sabotage ).

Vaccination around the present areas, as I suggested earlier, would prevent any further environmental virus distribution from having much clinical effect and would lower any re-excretion rates of virus into the environment. - a basic tenet of vaccination . If the present policy is successful, it will be a measure of good luck in ignoring these two variables.

One of the more worrying aspects of the clinical presentation of the second affected animal group in this outbreak, was the profound onset of the illness simultaneously in a number of animals . This strongly suggests a high viral load within the environment that infected this group all together.

That to my mind would be one reason why vaccine for this outbreak should be used sooner rather than later.



From Nick Green in Cumbria Dear Mary


I rang the Animal Health Office at Reigate this morning at approximately 10:15 hrs.

I was eventually handed over to a vet who tried to answer my questions.

They were under the impression that a prototype "American" remote RT-PCR had been used at IP one. But they knew nothing else as they had only recently arrived in Surrey. They suggested I contact Page Street.

They were obviously busy but did their best to answer my questions.

I explained that, given that FMD was the most highly contagious disease affecting cloven footed animals, why was the decision taken to leave footpaths open?

They stated that "We did not agree with this. IT WAS A POLITICAL DECISION." As if we didn't know!


Yes indeed. Thank you, Nick. The phrase "prototype American one" doesn't mean anything. They have not been "prototype" in America since 1999. But I suppose the UK might be using bits of things cobbled together that might include something American. Whatever it is, the results are not very helpful if Hunts Hill Farm free range animals died for no reason. I was reliably told on Aug7 me that " Pirbright is doing quite a bit behind the scenes with portable devices. The whole portable PCR field will be transformed with very cheap machines that are highly automated within the year."

Thanks again


August 10 -From E. Smithson - an English farmer with an ironic query


Is there Foot and Mouth somewhere in England ??

There has been no offical notification/letter to farmers that FMD is back ( or are we the only ones not to get one? )

No letters, no leaflets, absolutely nothing !

Defra seem to assume that all us hardworking farmers have time to watch the television, have the internet or get a daily newspaper.

Defra can find the time and money to send us all pointless bumph that we don't need, let alone have time to read, but when the countryside is hit with something like FMD we get absolutely nothing.

Ok, I know that all but someone who's been on a different planet for the last week or so knows about the fmd in Surrey, but the least Defra could have done is to let us all know the situation by letter. They can send out other paperwork fast enough.

August 9 From Robert Persey

Dear Mary

Are there any composting centres handling catering or category three meat waste in Surrey? Please could you ask your readers?

Was any of the resulting compost spread near one of the outbreaks?

These plants are supposed to be supervised by the same SVS that was monitoring Bobby Waugh.

If you go to there is a news item about FMD in Surrey at bottom of front page and also a link to DEFRA's website. On the DEFRA's website there is a link to a risk assessment carried out Dec 2002. If you go into pdf file and go to the 'Summary of predicted risks' it defines the risks of FMD escaping to grazing animals as 'very low risk'.

I understand part of the criteria for windrowing of catering waste is that access to animals is denied for two months. The question that I raised at the time of the consultation:- How do you stop Mr fox walking off with a leg of pork or joint of beef that somebody has discarded into the dustbin and then has been spread to land after windrow composting especially if that joint of meat was on top of the heap and did not get hot.

Composting of meat needs to be carried out in an enclosed vessel and should be sieved to the 12 mm particle size before undergoing the compulsory one hour at 70 deg c. The windrowing and cage systems are cheaper but have an element of risk that this Country cannot afford.

I have been writing to the CVO in recent months, flagging up these risks. I have suggested that she appoints a senior vet to look at the risks of composting. The Government wants as much composting as possible in order to meet EU recycling targets but we must not allow FMD or swine fever to escape. The virus, like the terrorist only has to get lucky once.

Kind Regards


Received Aug 7 From Ben Moxon

The outbreak is very near to us - I grew up very near to Woolfords Farm (which most people reporting on the outbreak seem totally unable to spell) and now live nearby in Farnham.

A lot of people have commented on how many deer there are around here this summer - it seems to have been a really good year for them. Pirbright is right on the edge of woodland and heath where deer would certainly be found. You wouldn't need any flooding to go uphill to get from the labs to somewhere that the local wild populations could pick it up, but I'm guessing if it flooded and then evaporated that would be pretty good news for an airborne virus that favours humid conditions as well.


August 8 From Miriam Roberts

The 1981 FMD outbreak that started in northern France (Brittany and Normandy) and spread to the UK (Jersey and the Isle of Wight) was caused by the same type O substrain (Lausanne 1965) that was then used in the preparation of commercial vaccines.

Since FMD virus is extremely unlikely to survive unaltered in the field for 16 years, it was concluded (see Nature 293, pp 479-480) that the outbreaks must have been caused by the re-introduction of Lausanne into the field, possibly by escape from a laboratory, the use of a vaccine contaminated with virus or an incompletely inactivated vaccine.

In view of the French/American ownership of Merial, it would be interesting to know the identity of the French facility implicated in the above "re-introduction".


( Answer - no definite reference for this yet, but one virologist thinks it was Merial.)

Aug 8 From Hugh Rowlands

Dear Mary,

You might like to add my letter in today's Independent to your armoury. Keep up the excellent work.

Kind regards,

Huw Rowlands

Published in the Independent today

Vaccinate cattle against foot-and-mouth and save real farming

Sir: Your correspondents commenting on the foot-and-mouth outbreak appear, in their criticism of the National Farmers' Union, to be unaware of the difference between agriculture and agri-business.

Agriculture is family farms firmly based in and contributing to the rural economy. Agri-business means intensive production aimed at producing cheap food for sale by rapacious supermarkets whose overwhelming concern is to maximise profits no matter what the cost to anyone or anything else.

Culling infected animals is intended solely to protect our beef export industry, whilst supermarkets happily continue importing beef from countries such as Brazil, where foot-and-mouth disease is endemic. Can anyone explain the sense in this? And what about the contribution towards climate change of needlessly shipping vast quantities of meat around the globe?

As a farmer of rare breed Red Poll cattle I am fully in favour of vaccination, both to create a firebreak and to prevent our rare breeds from becoming extinct breeds. I have been forced to work around the supermarkets and agri-business and have no wish to sacrifice my livestock and my livelihood to suit them or anyone else.



(and this also from Caroline Lucas MEP)

Sir: Whatever the cause of the latest outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease, the Government must ensure it has learned the lessons of 2001 and doesn't repeat the culling of healthy livestock instead of vaccination to protect British export markets.

The policy caused misery to millions, and brought the British countryside to its knees. As many as 11 million animals were slaughtered, most of them quite needlessly: the total cost to the British economy has been estimated at between #8bn and #20bn - all to (unsuccessfully) protect an export market worth just #630m.

Despite Labour's attempts to block and hamper it at every turn, the European Parliament established a committee of inquiry into the Government's handling of the 2001 crisis. As its vice-president, I was able to see at first hand some of the devastation caused to Britain's farming and tourist industries by the Government's bizarre obsession with protecting the free flow of international trade whatever the cost. It must not do the same this time, but must adopt a policy of ring-vaccination rather than any preventative slaughter of healthy animals.



August 8 From Nick Green



At 0815 an interview was conducted on BBC television with David Catlow of the BVA.

Catlow explained that the IAH was world renowned and the research into the control of animal diseases was acknowledged as being the best in the world. He stated that the scientific expertise evplved at IAH had been used to help stamp out the current outbreak. He did not allude to how. He also stated that the IAH had been responsible for saving many animal lives. He did fail to remind us that as yet the RT-PCR has not been used to help diagnose the disease quickly or why vaccination had not been used. He also failed to mention that the current method of controlling FMD is based on methods going back perhaps a hundred or more years; kill everything you think has the disease and monitor everything else whilst controlling all movements. This does not appear to be a response that is engrained in modern science and disease control methods!

Catlow also stated that FMD was "The most contagious disease known to man or animals bar none". He did not explain why many footpaths remained open in the immediate area or why those same footpaths had not been closed immediately.

The BBC presenter then asked Catlow, "Why do we conduct the research into FMD vaccine in this country when that is clearly a threat to the local farming community and when we never use the FMD vaccines here in the UK."

An excellent question. I stopped eating my cornflakes and wondered how Catlow would respond.

Well, predictably he made no attempt to answer the question at all. He waffled on explaining that we had an outbreak in 2001 here in the UK and that the research at IAH was very important!

The interview duly finished.


Nick Green


Thanks for this, Nick. Have you seen the warmwell paragraph on the rapid on-site machines that have indeed been used, albeit very quietly, by Pirbright in this outbreak? We have Bryn to thank for asking the right questions.

Nick's reply

Hi Mary,

Yes, I had seen Bryn's note.

The fact is that although a RT-PCR (portable) had been used this time, diagnosis was based on the lab results many hours later. Had they used the results from the RT-PCR, movements would have ceased approx. 24 hours earlier and the cattle would have been slaughtered earlier (eventually slaughtered 1200 Sat. approx).

It is a step forward but painfully slow ...........


Aug 7 From Ken Tyrrell

As a young Veterinary Officer working for the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food I was sent from Dorset in the January 1960 to assist in the examination of livestock in the area around Pirbright when FMD virus escaped from Pirbright and infected one farm nearby. It did not spread but in those days we were so much more efficient in dealing with FMD than would appear today. FMD was not an unusual occurence so we were all experts on its diagnosis and control.

Hilary Benn should be reminded that after the 1950's escape the Government gave a cast iron guarantee that it would never be allowed to happen again. USA puts its FMD Research Laboratory on an island. (Plum Island Animal Disease Center) Common sense?

Below is an extract from the Wikipedia website for Plum Island

Ken Tyrrell

Aug 7 2007 ~ From Bryn Wayt

My experience this time on any phone line to Defra was very positive and not much (some) hanging about listening to music on that Helpline. I was very impressed with the openness and the freedom in which information was given. A huge difference from my phone calls during 2001.

I phoned the Defra help line (Liverpool call centre) this morning - they could not answer my questions.

  1. Are you ring vaccinating around the perimeter of the Surveillance Zone?
  2. Why were the cattle slaughtered in sight and sound of each other?
  3. Why were the lorries taking away the carcases only covered by a tarpaulin?
  4. Why are you not using the RT- PCR's units that were offered to MAFF/Defra as far back as 2001?
Question 4 was my main thrust, and the Liverpool call centre gave me the phone number of the AH Office in Reigate (01737 242242) where I spoke to a very helpful AH Officer (a very nice lady by the name of Stephanie Millar) who did not know the answer, but promised to get a vet to ring me with an answer. At 10.44 hrs Stephanie Millar left a message on my answerphone saying a vet would ring back; if they did not, Stephanie left her office number and mobile for me to chase it up. Not long after that a very nice and helpful lady vet and phoned and confirmed that, "a prototype RT-PCR unit had been used on the first IP, and the VO on the second site would be using it."


I then phoned Page Street......... I tried to get Fred Landeg .... at a meeting, Martin Dilley.... nope.......... anyway spoke to another very pleasant lady, Ann Waters (was Dep Director FMD Ops 2001 - don't know her present title) who sounded a little surprised I knew that a, "prototype RT-PCR had been used on the first IP" and she was at pains to confirm that it was the samples from IP1 that went to Pribright lab that were the basis of the declaration it was FMD for sure. It was these samples that were the ones to "go on" not the RT-PCR prototype unit results. I did not enagage in any more discussion as the office sounded very busy, and being fairly satisfied 'they' must be using the prototype rapid sampler when and where required.

My experience this time on any phone line to Defra was very positive and not much (some) hanging about listening to music on that Helpline.

I have been impressed with the openess and free flow of information I was given. A huge difference from my phone calls to MAFF/Defra during 2001.

Kind wishes,


Aug 7 2007 From John Brooks

Hi Mary,

A short question that some of your readers may be able to answer;

Bearing in mind that there are many people (farmers, stockholders etc) who have had no contact whatsoever from Defra, Seerad, Eho etc informing them of the ban on stock movements,

what would be the legal position if someone who was genuinely unaware of the problem (having had NO official contact) was moving stock, and was stopped by the police?


(We think that it will be no defence at all. Two prosecutions pending so far...)

Aug 7 From Margaret Shackles

Hi Mary,

Feel I must put in a word for the goats at risk. Among the cattle, sheep and pigs in the Protection Zone, it should be mentioned that the acclaimed Ashdene and Theban herds of British Toggenburg and British Saanen dairy goats, arguably the best goats in the UK, live within a few miles of the original outbreak.

These aren't animals bred to be eaten. They are high-yielding milkers with 'gold-plated' pedigrees. Goatkeepers everywhere are crossing their fingers.

Your, M

August 7 From Lawrence Wright

Dear Mary,


Thanks for your untiring efforts.  I attach an email I have sent to Farmer's Weekly.  I sent something very similar to the BBC PM programme.


Lawrence xx


PS I infer from the Paul Sutmoller and Paul Gibbs article that although FMD can be fatal to roe-deer, it could also be very hard to detect - as it apparently is in sheep.  In which case it might go unnoticed in the wild deer?


Middle Campscott Farm

From: Middle Campscott []
Sent: 07 August 2007 11:48
To: ''
Subject: FMD


If it is likely that the FMD virus was spread from Pirbright by floodwater or some other means of general dispersal rather than by some sort of direct contact by personnel, it seems very likely indeed that wild deer will have been exposed to infection.  I understand that deer are just as highly susceptible to FMD as cattle of sheep and that their symptoms are intermediate between those of cattle and sheep (so it would be possible for FMD to be barely noticeable in an infected deer), that an infected deer can pass the infection to cattle or sheep as well as other deer and that deer can be infected by cattle and sheep.  


Deer, particularly roe-deer are now common in Surrey.  Is DEFRA monitoring possible infection in deer - and how?  Who would notice the infection in deer?   Does DEFRA have a plan?  Cattle keepers are continually admonished to inspect their animals - more than once per day and report any possible symptoms of FMD.  Who is DEFRA asking to inspect wild deer?  Who would report symptoms and to whom?  Is there a plan for containing the spread of FMB in deer?  If deer are susceptible and able to spread FMD, they will break down all the 'protection zone' attempts at containment and cause an ever widening spread of the disease.  Surely the solution would be to vaccinate susceptible animals against FMD?


As a livestock farmer myself, with cattle, sheep and goats on my farm, I am angry to find myself trapped between two contradictory policies relating to FMD.  On the one hand, I am barred by the State from protecting my animals by vaccinating them against this unpleasant but non fatal disease that only affects cloven hoofed animals (not humans).  I am allowed, even encouraged, to vaccinate my animals against a wide range of other diseases.  If my animals contract FMD, this non fatal disease, or if the livestock on a nearby farm are even suspected of having contracted this non fatal disease, they will be killed by DEFRA slaughter men, probably in circumstances far from humane.  My only defence against my animals suffering this fate is to 'exercise bio security measures'; primarily to prevent any contact with my animals from the world outside.  On the other hand, I am told by the State, that the rural tourist industry is much more valuable than my activities as a livestock farmer; and that consequently I must not prevent persons from the outside from walking along the footpaths through my fields.  And, indeed my wife and I depend on selling the products from our animals in local markets: so we need to come and go from the farm if we are to make a living.  We are happy to encourage rural tourism and apart from our love of our livestock are concerned about the effect on rural enjoyment of a countryside reeking of death or a countryside devoid of animals.  Surely the solution would be to allow me to vaccinate my animals against FMD?


Lawrence Wright


Middle Campscott Farm

August 7 From Sabine Zentis

Dear Mary

It is appalling to notice that the long term memory of individuals like the vet consultant Tony Andrews opposing vaccination against FMD is as non existent as their comprehension of the science behind vaccination.

This outbreak is the classical scenario to use vaccination successfully without, in the long term, compromising the export status of the whole of the UK.

The products of vaccinated animals could easily be marketed within the area - and besides saving animals from being destroyed the risk of transmitting the virus out of the restricted zones could be minimized.

This is still to be considered a localized outbreak and if this outbreak should spread beyond the boundaries of the protection zones it might be only controllable by measures that were already scandalous in 2001. Every additional animal that gets infected enhances the risk and by the time clinical signs are obvious the virus is already on the move to claim the next victim.

The Government should stop listening to useless "consultants" and use vaccination before it is too late.

Castleview Pedigree English Longhorns

From Michael Greaves

I have been pondering the 'pathogen via floods' 'explanation'. I have looked at the map and unless I can no longer read a map properly, it seems to me that the Farm at East Wyke is at about 70 metres above sea level and the Merial etc. lab at about 35-40 metres (I stand to be corrected all round, in which case I will retire to a private place and wipe the egg off my face!), the point being, since when did floods travel uphill?

Or am I being thick and ignorant and missing some physics that operates in a strange way here? In which case, I apologise for wasting your valuable time which is being so well applied to this matter.



August 7 - midday Michael Greaves now sends a follow on email that is equally interesting...


Further to my earlier email I have two further thoughts which I hope make sense.

If the second outbreak is at Woolfords's farm near Elstead Sy., then my earlier strictures about gravity defying pathogens  and uphill floods apply equally to this site as well which is between 60 and 70 metres above sea level. In addition the idea that the disease having escaped from Pirbright could manage to travel via floods to two quite distinct locations is really difficult to accept. One, perhaps, but two is really stretching it. I detect flannel and spin.

I am more willing to take on board the roe deer theory. But there I have a number of practical concerns. Firstly are we not on the cusp of the mating season for roe deer when one might expect that, instead of being highly mobile in search of food, both buck and hind are more closely tied to individual terrotorial areas? Secondly, although one accepts that roe will travel a good distance, one is struck here, particularly in the case of Woolfords's, by the number of obstacles between Pirbright and the locations. In the latter case one can see on the map the A323, A324, a railway, the A31 and A3 all forming significant impediments to roe deer movement. Thirdly there is the coincidence thing: we now have a situation where one roe deer visits Pirbright, gets infected and then makes its way unerringly to East Wyke. Then a second one also manages the same trick, this time going the much further distance to Woolfords's. Or the same, somewhat sick, deer makes the journey to both farms. Either way I find that quite hard to accept.

As before I am quite willing to defer to those with much greater knowledge of the social life of the roe deer and water that flows uphill but I am left with the sense of officialdom desperately trying to point the finger anywhere but at themselves.

I felt that Mr. Benn's effort this morning on the radio was utterly complacent. Mr. Matthews on the other hand evoked nothing but distress at what local farmers must be going through and admiration for his self-control. I am astonished, as I have said on my blog, that footpaths in the Protected Zones were not closed immediately as that seems to me to be a blindingly obvious thing to do.

Bearing in mind we managed so to conduct affairs that between 1967 and 2001 we did not have a major outbreak of FMD and have now had two serious ones in six years, how can a full judicial enquiry or Royal Commission  which deals with the handling of both recent outbreaks now be evaded?

Again, I stand humbly in line for egg on face if I have sent you barking up the wrong trees.

With good wishes


Jonathan Miller, journalist at has been in touch. It is so encouraging to see the networks of 2001 regrouping - and Jonathan offers some much needed light relief as well as no-holds barred criticism.

".....The calculation of ministers, armed with their new media skills, is that what the public doesn't see, will not upset them. Hence the rush to keep the helicopters out of the sky. The BBC and Sky news had already self-censored the most graphic images of the last slaughter in which the Woolfords cattle were shot down side-by-side, one by one in a makeshift pen. The cowardice, ineptitude and ignorance of the 24-hour news channels is a subject for continuing discussion. A hare-brained blonde on Sky explained they had censored their pictures to spare us distress. This, apparently, is news judgement at Sky - we will not be shown the truth, so that we may be spare distress. Only journalism rivals politics for its hypocrisy....."

......Abigail Woods, a lecturer in the history of medicine at Imperial who was brilliant in 2001 at exposing the lies of the NFU and their lackeys, has returned to the fray in today's Guardian, here.
I am travelling today. Check frequently with Warmwell for updates."

August 7 From Lawrence Wright

Dear Mary,

If it is likely that the FMD virus was spread from Pirbright by floodwater (rather than by some sort of direct contact means), it seems very likely indeed that wild deer will have been exposed to infection. It would be useful for more to be known about the form the infection would take in deer. Do deer show clearly identifiable symptoms? Are they like sheep and able to fight off the disease without anyone noticing?

I am sure that no one from DEFRA will be monitoring possible infection in deer - so who would notice the infection in deer? Does DEFRA have a plan? Cattle keepers are continually admonished to inspect their animals - more than once per day and report any possible symptoms of FMD. Who does DEFRA expect to inspect wild deer and report symptoms and to whom? What is their plan for containing the spread of FMB in deer? If deer are susceptible and able to spread FMD, they will break down all the 'protection zone' attempts at containment and cause an ever widening spread of the disease - to sheep, pigs, etc, etc.

Can any of your Veterinary contacts help with advice? (And why doesn't DEFRA provide this sort of information?)

Lawrence xx

Middle Campscott Farm

August 7 From Adrianne Smyth

Dear Mary

So good to see you are still running Warmwell as well as rings around the craven official spokespersons.

It is almost unbelievable to hear some of them still parrotting the nonsense about vaccination spreading the disease. Funny that they didn't seem to have this point of view in the recent outbreak of TB amongst primary shoolchildren in Luton. No slaughter there, vaccine for all and likewise in the 2001 outbreak of TB among children in Leicester.

Most farm animals are vaccinated for many clostridial diseases and footrot etc. Sainsbury's are selling steaks from the Argentine - where they use vaccination. No one in Sainsbury's seemed worried about eating Argentinian meat. How long do we have to go on listening to the official drivel?

Surely this time we can get some sense - if only on financial grounds?

Very best wishes to you,

Adrianne Smyth


From Vickie Rogers at the Farmers Guardian

Hi Mary,

Some of today's Farmers Guardian FMD stories:
Latest FMD virus could be less virulent than a 'wild' strain
Farmers 'furious' at incineration decision ( Alistair Driver on the anger that carcases were indeed taken to the Wessex Incineration plant, at Frome, which is about 90 miles away from the Surrey farm )
Too soon to say when movement restrictions could be lifted - Despite varying reports on the minimum length of time the movement restrictions will be in place following the Surrey foot-and-mouth outbreak, no timeframe has been put in place.


Vickie Rogers

Aug 6 From Jo Rider Hello again, Mary,

I've been looking at Hansard a lot recently with reference to bTB, and thought I'd do a search on IAH Pirbright. This is only the second item I've come up with and shows DEFRA's been cutting funding.

Another reference, from the BBSRC mentions 104 redundancies since 2005.

best regards

PS received shortly afterwards

It is worth remebering who was in charge of the purse strings when Defra had to find the money to pay its huge fines from its existing budget.



Aug 6 From Norm Coates (2)

Hi Mary,
Apparently there is some misconception about the locality of the FMD Incident.
The owner of the cattle, Derrick Pride and his son Roger, live south of Elstead (they own and run Prides Organic Meat in Elstead). They agist or rent land between the village of Normandy and Wanborough Station for part of their cattle herd. The rest (up to 100) are kept on land they own north of Elstead and on their farm south of the town. The cattle kept between Normandy and Wanborough Station were the initial herd identified with FMD. Some of the others in his herd down south, have also been identified with the virus since, and also been culled.
See the initial map from DEFRA (issued Fri 3rd Aug) and the central position of the affected area (Normandy - Wonborough Station) designated by the inner blue ring -
The second map produced by DEFRA (issued Sat 4th Aug) shows the lozenge shaped markings which bring in Pirbright -
And the third (issued Sun 5th Aug) now includes Derrick Prides family farm south of Elstead -
(I have reduced the images to save bandwidth :-)
The owner originally identified the troubled cattle in the field between Normandy and Wanborough Station on Thursday last and informed the authorities immediately.
Questions -
How did the virus get from Pirbright to the Normandy location?
Has the virus bypassed other animals in between these locations?
Hmm, will they find affected deer? (Maybe NOW they will!)
Did the owner transfer the virus from the Normandy location to his other properties on his footwear or his vehicle tyres?
And just a throwaway question.
Did he recently visit (or have delivery from) the recycling/animals supplies/etc at Strawberry Farm on the other side of Glaziers Lane from the field where the cull took place?
Hoo Roo
(A PS from Norm

BTW you could say that I am an 'expat' who has a tiny farm with 7 chooks, an alpaca and 2 pregnant Boer goat does due in late October.
It is comforting to read that Derrick Pride and his family are so highly regarded by their peers. I sincerely hope that rather than this being a total disaster, that after everything has cleared up and they get back on their feet again, the customers flock to his shop.
And, as he is reported to have said, "It is nothing to do with us. It is something beyond our control''

My wife and I only wish that we had such a facility close by that we could frequent and buy good local produce.)

From Joyce Ross

Subject: RE: FMD job description (Pirbright)

This is interesting

I wonder who they were replacing?

wonder if those who've been in contact with the latest massacre abide by this: quote The Employee ......... ***must not visit any premises where such animals are kept within three days of entering the restricted area of the laboratory, or within five days of entering the restricted animal accommodation.***

From Jo Rider

Hello Mary,

Once again, many, many thanks for all your work on your site.

I was interested to see on the Pirbright website that they are looking for a Head of Pirbright Animal Services. "After impending amalgamation of Animal Services at both the Compton and Pirbright Laboratories, the postholder will report to the Head of Animal Services (yet to be recruited to be based at either the Pirbright or Compton laboratories of IAH)."

They are also recruiting Deputy Director of Science, Research Assistant, Animal Attendant, Senior Animal Technicians, among others.

They say what bio-security will be involved. For animal attendant " They must also have regard to strict bio-security and safety regulations in which any necessary training will be given. Staff work within air-conditioned buildings, wear Institute clothing and shower when leaving their place of work."

Showering etc isn't mentioned for the other posts, but "The Employee must not live on any premises where any cloven hoofed animals are kept, such as cattle, sheep, pigs, goats or deer, and must not visit any premises where such animals are kept within three days of entering the restricted area of the laboratory, or within five days of entering the restricted animal accommodation."

Surely, if it is dangerous for one of them to visit a farm within 5 days, wouldn't it also be dangerous to mingle with local farmers at a pub, or in a shop?

Best regards


From Norm Coates

Inquiry focuses on vaccines producer

".....Merial, a US-French venture, produced vaccines for foot-and-mouth disease, not sold in the UK, at a site in Pirbright, a few miles from the farm where the virus was found. Some of these were made using the strain of virus found on the affected farm, which is "very close to" the strain isolated from the 1967 outbreak, according to the Institute for Animal Health.

But the company said it had "no idea" how any foot-and-mouth virus could have spread from its facility and said it was too early in the investigation to say whether any had done so. Other transmission routes for the virus were also possible, the company said.

It halted vaccine production at the plant on Friday. (Em, when was the virus identified? Defra statement on Saturday identified which one it was!)

Merial said: "Our centre operates to the very highest international standards and we insist on stringent adherence to processes and procedures for health, safety and environmental protection, quality control, quality assurance and regulatory compliance." Bert Burns, a spokesman, said the company had never before experienced a virus outbreak arising from one of its facilities. "In 39 years I have never known an outbreak anywhere in the world from a plant," he said. (Maybe not an outbreak but 'illegal' testing may have been done - 2000!)


I wonder how any contaminated material could get from the research facility to the area in question other than by air,wind etc? Oh and not affect other farming facilities between Flexford and Pirbright? How does the Pirbright facility get rid of garbage?

Hoo Roo


From Judy Tuthill August 6

Dear Mary,

It was with a sinking heart that I heard the news yesterday of the new outbreak in the UK. Our thoughts and prayers are with you until this ends. We followed and read a lot in 2001 and was saddened and heartbroken at what happened to all the country people and the animals that were killed. I still had a file of bookmarks for FMD and was amazed at how many still worked.

Could you please tell us the difference between a protected zone and a surveillance zone. How are farms treated differently in the two zones. Thank you.

God bless from Central New York,



Dear Judy

Thanks for this question. I think many people are a bit confused by this. The short answer can be given by the DEFRA definition. The complications come if - heaven forbid - we get an epidemic - and if that should happen I'll have to extract all the turgid language from the EU Directive. No need for this at present, thank the Lord.

DEFRA's definition is that a "Protection Zone extends for at least 3km around the infected premises and a Surveillance Zone extends for at least 10 km around the infected premises. Within the Protection Zone all premises containing livestock will be inspected by veterinary inspectors and will be subject to restrictions. This reduces the chance of potentially infected material leaving the premises until the disease status can be determined. Within the Surveillance Zone all premises containing livestock will be subject to movement restrictions."


From Miriam Roberts

There has been one UK outbreak of FMD caused by virus type SAT2. When? January 1960. Where? On a farm one mile from Pirbright. Presumed cause? Escape from the laboratory. "Following this incident, disease security measures were improved and air filtration was introduced to the isolation units." (Source: Animal Health, A Centenary 1865-1965, pp 149-150.)


From Henry Curteis

Dear Mary,

French 24 TV channel says that Britain may decide to use vaccination this time. The Sunday Telegraph leader says that there has been an EU Europe-wide slaughter policy since 1992. Who is actually deciding what happens - the UK government, the EU, or does simply no one really know? Is that would explain why FMD becomes such a critical event in Britain as it did in 2001.

In 1967 only herds that contracted the disease were slaughtered. Now they slaughter all adjacent farms as well and often more than that, so that millions of perfectly healthy farm animals were slaughtered in 2001. They've started with the same approach in the 2007 outbreak already slaughtering an adjacent farm. Does anyone know who is actually responsible for taking these decisions? Hilary Benn on Sunday morning TV showed no detailed technical knowledge at all.


Henry Curteis, Shrewsbury, Shropshire. .

Warmwell reply

Dear Henry

I sympathise with your frustration and confusion. You're right. The politicians may well be - understandably -out of their depth. They are programmed not to admit this. They are relying on expert advice - which could be a little thin on the ground as far as the virology of FMD and the latest thinking on vaccination are concerned.

My own understanding is this: In the early 1990s Britain persuaded the rest of Europe in joining them in a non-vaccination policy. It seemed attractive because of the trade barrier benefits it confers via the WTO. But after the enormity of the UK and Dutch outbreaks in 2001 the EU felt it had to allow vaccination again. BUT it has allowed "discretion" to individual Member States - perhaps to save the blushes of idiotic UK government officials whose decisions in 2001 were so catastrophic.

So - although (being very careful indeed about the words they use) the UK has been parroting its willingness to "consider" vaccination ever since it became apparent what a mess they'd made, they are still very reluctant to put in jeopardy the profits of the UK meat trade - and also, of course, they don't want to land some very powerful "advisers" in the soup by tacitly admitting the science was so completely wrong. So no, the UK can prevaricate and is not forced by the EU to vaccinate against foot and mouth even now.

What's more, the UK officials have covered their backs legally this time by giving themselves powers (in the new Animal Health Act) to slaughter virtually anything they like, and it is an offence now to try to stop them - or even to refuse to cooperate.

Of course everything they do will have a veneer of scientific credibility (there are plenty of useful talking heads happy to pop up on television) "Dangerous contacts" sounds better than the infamous "contiguous cull" - and we are perhaps unlikely to hear much more about where the virus came from now.

I think the COBRA group may well have been advised that DEFRA can slaughter everything in a small radius to get rid of the, apparently, localised danger and thus put off emergency vaccination. I think this could be a big mistake. In theory, the Minister, Hilary Benn will take the decision - but as you so rightly say, he really has no experience or knowledge and is unlikely to know whether he is being correctly advised or not.

Thank you for writing. I think many people will be equally at sea, and like the rest of us, be feeling horribly powerless.


From Andres Perez

Hi Mary,

on your question under the headline 'Confusion about the virus strain' recently posted at your website - I am not a molecular virologist, so probably I should not try to answer the question, but my understanding is that it could be both things.

Reference strains are just strains that are used for comparison because they represent some sort of point that for some reason are a good source for a comparison - because people working in the area are familiar with them or because comparison to that strain have some biological meaning.

Typically, a vaccine strain, a strain that at some point represented an emergence of a new type of virus, or a very well known strain. Does this help?

Again, am not a virologist.



From Chris Craghill


My sentiments entirely over the supposed "Humane Slaughter" of the Woodford Farm herd.

It is obvious from the photos taken after slaughter that the animals were just shot where they stood in the pen.

What panic there must have been. I felt incensed when I saw that picture. Here we go again, back to the panic slaughter measures of 2001 without any regard for animal rights.

Chris Craghill


Essex (exiled Cumbrian)

From Christina Speight

This might help ! ??

There seems to be a little confusion about the location of the Animal virus research institute (1 mile south of Pirbright) at map ref: 952542 and Woolfordss Farm ) 2 miles SSW of Elstead on map ref:895425. My rusty pythagoras gives an approximate distance as the crow flies of 14.5 km or 9 miles. Between the two are a wood, farmland, the A323, Wood Street village, a railway line (Aldershot-Guildford), Wanborough village with the land rising sharply 365 feet to the A31 on the top of the Hogs Back, sharply down 125-150 ft to the extensive tourist area of Puttenham Common and woods, Elstead itself about a mile long with B3001 running E-W through it, and two miles of wood / farmland to the Farm

The Hogs Back seems a significant obstacle to airborne virus and the prevailing wind would have had to be NNE.

Christina Speight

From Patrick Rust
At a press conference (questioning not
being allowed however) by IAH director Professor Martin Shirley it is now
clear that:

"...there had also been limited use of the strain at the institute in recent

What does "limited use" mean?  From the IAH FMD home page we can see that the
strain of current FMD is O1 BFS 1860.

A search of the virology literature show that the IAH conducted an experiment
in 2003 where this strain was inoculated into 4 Standard Compton steers:

Journal of General Virology (2004), 85, 415 - 42.

Available here:

Could this kind of experimentation be classified as "limited use"? 
Unfortunately this kind of question hasn't been asked yet.

Best wishes,

From Theresa and Ian Henderson -- Brecon Beacons

Thank goodness for Mary and warmwell..

a thought occurred to me as I watched the images of the cattle after they had been 'humanely' slaughtered - they were all lying in the small pen that we had seen them being herded into - the only way, as far as I can work it out, that they could have been killed is to be shot at by people standing outside the pen - obviously unseen by helicopter cameras because they had been banned before the killing took place - surely that does not constitute humane slaughter, there must have been absolute panic in the herd of cattle. Where does this fit into the government's vastly improved contingency plans that we keep hearing about - the practical reality of organising the destruction of these animals does not appear to have improved at all - and this is the very first case!

best wishes

Theresa and Ian

From Robert Persey (2nd email)

Dear Mary.

I note the comments from Lawrence White. There were suggestions that Dr David Kelly (of Iraq weapons of mass destruction fame) was the FMD expert working on a project at Newcastle University (research farm) into experiments using an attenuated version of the FMD virus as a marker gene. It is also of interest that Bobby Waugh was taking swill from Newcastle University but the details of his sources of waste food were swapped around so that this information was not made public in Court. There is no doubt that a book could be written about what really happened prior to FMD in 2001.

If only.

From Sabine Zentis farmer

Dear Mary,

I was wondering what happens to the animals that are used for vaccine research. Will they eventually be slaugtered ?

As the poor chap who is in the middle of it is said to have a butcher shop...well, who knows ?

And lab tests are not always reliable.

Just an idea...


August 5 2007- From Lawrence Wright, sheep farmer

Dear Mary,

As it becomes increasingly inescapable that the source of the FMD outbreak was the Pirbright Laboratories - and consequently more acceptable to say so, the distance between the unfortunate farm where the infection was found seems to be decreasing. In the first reports, no one on the BBC mentioned that Pirbright was anywhere near - although one would have though that its proximity should have at least warranted a mention. On the BBC News bulletins during the day yesterday it was five miles away, late last night it had closed to four miles and this morning it was three miles. From your description, it sounds as though it might get even closer.

Until now, it has seemed taboo in 'official circles' to acknowledge that a laboratory could be the source of a virus escape. Perhaps now that this taboo has broken down, we can have some more honesty about the source of the 2001 outbreak. Where did the dead sheep taken to Bobby Waugh's pig farm pick up the infection and which laboratory allowed the escape of the virus into sheep?


Middle Campscott Farm


Dear Mrs Critchley,

There are probably 4 happy men this morning - the 4 head meat buyers of Tesco, Sainsbury, Asda & Morrison. I was paid £2.45/kg for lamb last Thurs - I'll bet anyone that the price will be sub £2 next week. In 2001 the supermarkets were able to use the close-down of meat exports to collapse the price and massively increased the damage of FMD to the industry.

We are really hoping that supermarkets make sure that their buyers and supplier processors act more responsibly this time. This is truly not a time for exploitation.

Will you take my money??

Very best wishes,

John Cresswell.

From Charles Abel, Head of Content at the Farmers Weekly Group

Hello Mary,


Been looking at your web-site - lots of good content.


Would draw your attention to some of our content:


2. Foot and mouth hits wool trade
04/08/2007 14:51:00


3. Foot and mouth beef producer supported by local farmers
04/08/2007 14:04:00


5. Calls for foot and mouth vaccination too soon?
04/08/2007 13:34:00


6. Farmers supportive of foot and mouth movement ban despite difficulties
04/08/2007 13:19:00


8. Foot and Mouth Symptoms
04/08/2007 12:00:00


9. Foot and mouth: The newspapers' verdict
04/08/2007 11:41:00


11. Foot and mouth outbreak in Surrey stuns farming community
04/08/2007 10:30:00


12. Foot and mouth disease - Farmers Weekly Interactive's special report on the outbreak at Surrey farm
04/08/2007 10:00:00




Best wishes,

Charles Abel
Head of Content

From Pat Rickett

Dear Mary

With cattle passports and movement records it should be possible for the BCMS to check within 15 minutes all the ear numbers of the cattle involved and be able to tell how long they have been on the holding - if all longer than 14 days then they have not brought it in - which should in itself negate some of the fears for the rest of the country.

From the aerial pictures it looks as though they have access to stream water and a ford which could have become contaminated by a hundred ways.

So strange that this outbreak is so close to DEFRA headquarters at Tolworth. Is any research done at Tolworth? Suspicion of foul play is never far from my mind.

Good that they have improved the diagnostic time - if memory serves me right it was about 3 - 4 days before they were sure the last time.

Can only hope that this is just a one off.

Kind regards


From Robert Persey Aug 4 2007

Dear Mary, Will we be told the truth about where the 2007 outbreak of FMD came from?

The Government refused to hold a Public Inquiry into the 2001 outbreak, even though it described the outbreak as 'the worst civil crisis to strike this country since World War 2'. The Government blamed the swill feeding industry for that outbreak and closed this recycling industry down without any compensation for the licensed operators, even though it continued in Europe. For four years the Parliamentary Ombudsman has been investigating that decision and the political manoeuverings that went on behind the scenes. The recent diaries of Alistair Campbell reveal his input, with the entry of March 23 2001. The decision to ban swill feeding was driven by No 10 who needed somebody to blame for the disease outbreak, just before a General Election. The decision to ban swill feeding was not based on science or logic. The 1.7 million tonnes of waste food that was being recycled by swill feeders was then diverted to landfill.

Has this disease outbreak come from a landfill site or from one of the meat composting sites that the State Veterinary Service is supposed to be monitoring? The Government is diverting large amounts of category three meat into composting sites even though the risk assessment it commissioned identified that there was a risk of disease escaping from these sites. The Government is facing EU fines of £150 per tonne for every tonne of waste recycling that it fails to achieve below set targets. The message is 'compost and to hell with the consequences'

Why has the Parliamentary Ombudsman taken over four years to investigate the ban on swill feeding? Is it because she has learnt that a State Vet, who is still employed by DEFRA, wrote a confession saying that if he had done his job properly the country would have been spared FMD? Is it because she has identified that DEFRA prevented that confession from going to the Anderson Lessons Learned Inquiry? Is it because she has learnt that a State Vet was condoning the illegal storage of unprocessed waste food on the farm where the 2001 outbreak was believed to have started? Is it because she has identified that the Minister misled the House of Commons about the results of the consultation that preceded the ban on swill feeding? Nick Brown MP reported the results to the House saying 'there were about 150 responses to the consultation, nearly all of which favoured a ban'. Following a search at DEFRA's library Ben Bradshaw MP issued a statement confirming there were over 350 responses with a majority supporting the continuation of swill feeding. Nick Brown MP misled the House of Commons and Alistair Campbell got his scapegoat for FMD and the recycling industry of swill feeding was closed down. Will the Parliamentary Ombudsman ever have the political courage to reveal the truth?

Robert Persey

Hembury Court





Aug 10 2007 From Jane Barribal at Farmtalking

Hi Mary

Please could you post a link to my petition on Warmwell?

'Following the recent outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease, I have felt it essential that rather than slaughter infected and suspected livestock they should be vaccinated.

However, there are two basic forms of emergency vaccination strategy to control Foot and Mouth Disease. The 'vaccination-to-live' policy whereby the animals live out their normal economic lives and their meat is then eaten; or the 'vaccination-to-die' strategy whereby animals around an infected farm are vaccinated to reduce the spread of infection and are then killed. The latter is quite unacceptable and I am sure that like myself, you would want them to be protected through a vaccination 'to live' policy.

If you agree with me, please sign my petition to the Prime Minister which you will find here -

Thank you

Jane Barribal - Farmtalking'

























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