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REFRESH page (F5 key)
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 ~ "....my 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 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 ~ "....no 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 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 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 jonathanmiller.wordpress.com 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 Miriam Roberts - ( reminder of a previous escape of virus from Pirbright)
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
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;
The Food Doctor Healing foods for mind & body by;
Vicki Edgson Dip ION & Ian Marber Dip ION
Page 15 Spinach
Nutrients; Beta - carotene, folic acid, potassium, iron, vitamins B6 & C, calcium, magnesium. Benefits; Anti-cancer, regulates blood pressure. Boosts the immune system. Supports bone health, A perfect food.
Page 25 Lettuce
Nutrients; Beta - carotene, folic acid, potassium, magnesium.
Benefits; Anti-spasmodic. Contains silicon, which supports bones, joints arteries & connective tissue.
not about H5N1 this time - although that is in the news again and hopefully Defra will feel pushed enough to release vaccines for private holdings - but something entirely different. But it does have to do with animal welfare.
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. I've tried like mad to gather information on the subject. M. Gregory's "Lettuce as a suspected cause of narcosis in a duckling" can no longer be viewed on the web, my posting on the forum of smallholder has had no replies for over a week. All I can find is loads of stuff about ducks dying on the salt lakes of America and how nitrate can be good for humans.
Any chance that the readers of your site can help? Here's hoping!
Thanking you in advance,
I have put together a small video with some suitable music which reflects the horrors of 2001.
It is made up of pictures that were in circulation at the time, some clips from various sources which marry in with the scenes and an introduction to the little video that I made just to show the clip is in memory of all the animals lost, the end one just saying lest we forget and that you should keep up the work to prevent further needless killings.
I have burnt a copy onto a CD which will play on computers fine and wondered if you would like one for your files.
It does make hard watching, although not gorey as in rubberneck type gorey interest, it is more the heartwrenching reminder of what people such as yourself work so hard to stop happening again, or the mishandling shall we say!
The Cd is not for sale or anything it was just put together from my heart where it is obvious that my 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, as always.
Glad you try to speak for them, keep up the good work.
Let me know if you would like me to do you a CD and where to send and I will get it done and posted, tissues nearby before watching is the only advice.
Kind Regards Anne
Foot & Mouth
I remember in 2001 attending a meeting to hear Professor Fred Brown speak and where he demonstrated the small machine for use at the farm gate that would not take rocket science to use.
Prof Brown must be turning in his grave at the way the government have allowed Foot & Mouth to leak from drains and yet again the only action taken was to cull thousands of animals costing God knows how much. And yet a machine is available - none of this makes sense to me.
I do know, heaven forbid, any disease coming to Cumbria I will challenge and demand testing "validated"or not.
I fought the so called powers that be in 2001 and kept my sheep and I will make an even bigger stand the next time.
I made a vow in 2001 never to let any Defra so-called vet on my property and as far as I am concerned this still stands and always will. I told Defra in 2001 they would have to cull me before one of my sheep. Now they would have to get past my 10 stone Italian Mastiff (and the media who would already have been invited in beforehand.)
In Fighting Mode Again
I am sure that the anxiety I feel about what 2008 might bring the UK livestock industry is shared by most other livestock keepers, with Bluetongue taking us into uncharted territory.
Bluetongue has been present in many other countries for years and I understand that in the US at least, a fair degree of resistance is now shown in the sheep population.
Thinking longer term, I wonder whether we should be trying to introduce such resistance into our flocks through breeding programs or will we be forced to go through the horrors of allowing our flocks to be selected for resistance naturally through large losses. Clearly vaccination, if available, would be preferable, but having more than one weapon might be an appropriate step.
Defra louses it up again - Guess who pays
Can Defra do anything right ever? All the bureaucrats and politicians at the heart of this continued shambles should resign forthwith. This is precisely reminiscent on a smaller scale of the way that this government acted over the due payments to farmers. Make a colossal mistake and then, to straighten the books, make the victims pay the price of their incompetence.
This may “cost the councils dear” but once again it’s the farmers and their animals that will ultimately pay
Till the end of June we in the Netherlands were divided in a restricted area and free area. We had a show in the free area in June and had to bloodsample our sheep; they could then go to the show and return the same day. I don't understand the behaviour of Defra. Especially in this season there should be no problem in sending animals to the free area if bloodsampled.
What is DEFRA's problem? (if any?)
Just to let you know that my herd of pedigree Jersey cows have now been blood tested (twice !) and in both cases the results have come back negative. It is a great relief ! My campaign for routine vaccination will go on regardless.
As a point of interest I have been hearing rumours on the farmers grapevine that the Queen's Windsor herd of Jersey cattle was secretly vaccinated on orders from Downing St. The work was undertaken by army vets (Household Cavalry) as they have signed the Official Secrets Act. I can just picture the Daily Mail headline "New Labour wipe out Queens Cows" - too much for Mr.Brown (Ironic that name as it was John Brown, with Queen Victoria, who started the Windsor herd). I did contact the NFU about this but have only received the usual meaningless reply (no change there then).I expect Peter Kendall will still get his knighthood.
I have also heard that Dr.Debby Reynolds is off sick at present. I have enquired as to if it is a virus so that we can cull her and her immediate friends and family as dangerous contacts.
Well done on your excellent site and work..
( Ashley's last comment here is an understandably black joke caused by the frustration so many of us feel. Whether or not the royal cows were vaccinated it is certainly true that Debby Reynolds is absent because of serious illness. Of course, we all wish her well and hope she will have a full recovery.)
Dear Mary,Thank-you so much for your concern, it means so much that other people care about what is happening not only to me, but to everyone who is affected by this terrible disease.My situation is as follows:
On Wednesday 17th October, due to a positive case of BTV in the Peterborough area, the then protection zone was extended to cover a huge area of England. We became enclosed approximately 3 miles within the zone and so due to BTV movement restrictions are now unable to move my flock of sheep. Unfortunately for us, we have just bought a small farm in North Wales and were making preparations to move there which now are at a standstill due entirely to not being able to take the sheep. Our current place is sold subject to contract and we have been able to extend the completion date to the end of December which gives me some breathing space. Our purchasers need a definite date for vacant possession which we are unable to give at the moment. The ewes will start lambing in February and ideally, I would like the sheep with me as soon as possible. The Welsh Assembly are not accepting live animals in to Wales, my EXD100 application to move the sheep has been turned down, DEFRA are unsympathetic, their (and the Welsh Assembly's) suggestion has been1. slaughter the flock or2. sell the flock (which I would be unable to do anyhow as Carlisle (in-lamb ewe sale) is not in either the surveillance or protection zones)I am not prepared to consider either of these options as I have built up a flock of around 200 pedigree Bluefaced Leicesters (approximately 95% homebred) which includes this years ewe and ram lambs to be sold next year as shearlings and those lambs destined for the freezer.
The sheep trade has crashed through the floor this Autumn as evidenced at the breeding sales and also the fat lamb/store lamb trade.
Feed prices have rocketed so no-one wants to feed extra mouths over the winter.
I have only been in the Bluefaced Leicesters for nearly 10 years, but have only been seriously breeding them for the last 6 and I have been showing them since 2004 with a small degree of success. (Actually, I have had Breed Champ at the Royal Welsh plus made the final 6 non-mv accredited interbreed at the Royal Welsh; Breed Champ at Shrops and West Mids; Reserve male breed champ Royal Welsh twice; Interbreed champ Hope show and reserve interbreed champ Poynton show; 2nd reserve breed champ Royal show; breed champ any other variety Staffs county and 6th Interbreed championship Staffs County. Last year I had 1st prize ewe lamb Royal Welsh out of 29 and also 1st and 2nd prize ram lambs out of 28. All these have been with homebred sheep. I also have a homebred ram that was graded as Elite Plus last year at Oswestry progeny show along side his 3 ewe lambs and the four of them were Reserve overall progeny show winners. I tell you all this Mary 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)
I am extremely upset and more than a little angry at the situation, about which I can do nothing. I was shocked at the suggestion that I would probably have to slaughter my sheep. Do they not realise what is happening within the livestock industry? The BTV movement restrictions are far more extreme than for F&M. At least there was some provision with F&M for welfare movements, with BTV its just "tough!" I have stated that I am more than willing to have the whole flock blood tested to prove that they are not infected pre movement to Wales and would also comply with requirements to thoroughly spray the inside of the vehicle with insecticide. I find it utterly incredible that animals only 3 miles away can move quite happily in to Wales and other "clean" parts of the UK with no problems whereas I, and others in similar positions so close to the lines on a map, cannot. I have not moved any livestock on to the farm since the first outbreak of F&M at the beginning of August with the exception of 4 homebred sheep that I was unsuccessful at selling at Welshpool BFL society sale on October 10th. I may buy in 1 or 2 sheep from the society sales in the Autumn (usually tups) but no more than this. I have worked very hard at building up this flock from scratch. We cannot afford the high prices that BFL's usually go for, so I have tried to improve the genetic make-up of the flock gradually each year by carefully selecting which ewe goes to what ram and assessing each resulting lamb. I cannot just go out and replace this flock as if they were a commercial mule flock.
I have emailed a letter to my MP and also to Bill Wiggin, Shadow Agricultural Minister explaining my plight. I have spoken to Adrian Briggs who is my Area NFU livestock spokesman and he has in turn written to more senior members within the NFU. Helen Davies is meeting with Stakeholders and the Welsh Assembly this Thursday to put my case, but we are not very hopeful of a positive outcome. Surely with a negative blood test result and stringent precautions, livestock should be able to move to all parts of the country?
So, salient points.
1. Have bought a property in North Wales which is outside the BTV zones2. Now 3 miles as the crow flies within the BTV surveillance zone but about 120 miles away from nearest infected premises3. Cannot move sheep to the new place and have sold current property but purchasers need a vacant possession on our place4. Was told by DEFRA and Welsh Assembly (week of 17th Oct) option is to slaughter the flock as currently no movements out of BTV zones permitted5. Have filled in an EXD100 form but have been refused movement exemptions6. Pedigree flock, mainly homebred with high genetic merit, not a commercial flock that I can replace easily7. Could not sell flock even if I wanted to as Carlisle (in-lamb ewe sale) is outside BTV zone8. No movements on to farm except for 4 unsold sheep brought back from Welshpool (outside BTV zones) society sale on 10th Oct since first F&M outbreak 20079. More than willing to have entire flock blood tested to prove not infected pre movement to Wales10. Extremely angry and upset by inflexibility of rules which will cause suffering to and kill more animals than the disease itself will11. Extremely worried that all of England made in to protection zone, so no chance of us being able to move to Wales, let alone sheep moving there12. Situation causing great stress and anxiety for the whole family, not just me13. Have emailed MP and Shadow Agricultural MP with problem and am awaiting replies, NFU informed of situation as have breed society14. Case being heard on Thursday 8th November by Stakeholders and the Welsh Assembly15. I cant afford to live in Wales and commute in to the BTV zone to rented grazing and buildings every day for a minimum of the next 2 years post last BTV case
Sorry it is a bit long winded Mary, but it is not easy for me to condense it down to a short paragraph for you, hence the bullet points! It would be great for this to be on the Warmwell site, I feel more than a little guilty though when I think about people like Frank Langrish who has a very real welfare problem and can do nothing much to help his sheep when my sheep have grass and haylage but just cant move house.... Then I think, well, my sheep aren't in the infected areas and it is a welfare issue if they are made homeless in a couple of months and I can't get them to Wales. It will bankrupt me and my family having to commute backwards and forwards to rented grazing and buildings so then I will be forced to either sell up or slaughter my sheep.
Many thanks once again for your support,
I read that Defra will determine how many doses of vaccine are required and that this will be a number in the range 10 to 20 million.
I understand that to achieve an adequate level of protection in a population it is necessary to vaccinate 80% of that population.
Defra estimates that there are 10 million cattle and 36 million sheep in the UK. If a single dose of vaccine per animal is needed then we need around 36 million doses. If, as is the case with many vaccines, two doses per animal is needed then we need around 72 million doses.
Are my assumptions false or is my arithmetic incorrect?
(I think you are right that two doses are needed for cattle, I am not sure about sheep. I also think your arithmetic whether right or wrong shows the shortfall. It's not looking good, is it? See Farming Today transcript)
From Jane Barribal at farmtalking.com
Could you please draw attention to this Petition (below) on Warmwell? -
Thanks very much - Jane
Please sign the petition to the Prime Minister calling for Bluetongue vaccines now! - http://petitions.pm.gov.uk/Bluetongue/
We need over 200 signatures for it to be presented to the Prime Minister so please sign up before 22nd November. The vaccine is urgently needed.
My open letter to Hilary Benn was published in the Chester Standard on 07/10/2007 where it is available online, but, alas, I don't think was published anywhere else.
Rt. Hon. Hilary Benn, M.P.
House of Commons
Dear Mr Benn,
Foot & Mouth Disease: An Open Letter
As a breeder of rare breed Red Poll cattle, I am writing to you to plead that you change the policy attempting to contain and eradicate foot and mouth disease through a policy of cruel and indiscriminate slaughter. The recurrence of the disease in Surrey would not have happened had ring vaccination to create a firewall taken place in August, and yet we find ourselves in the ludicrous position of having a laboratory full of the requisite vaccine not only in the centre of the affected area, but also apparently having caused the outbreak in the first place. Vaccination should also be used to protect the nation’s rare breed livestock which are genetically irreplaceable, and for which no financial compensation would suffice to cover the loss of a unique resource. Vaccines are now available with which it is possible to differentiate between animals exposed to the virus and those inoculated, therefore rendering spurious the argument against vaccination for fear of Britain losing its foot and mouth disease free status.
Indeed, the relevance of such status itself needs to be questioned. It is my understanding that the net financial value of beef, lamb and pork imports exceeds that of exports, meaning that the U.K. is trading at a loss. In any case, particularly at times of crisis, supermarkets will import meat to make up for any shortfall, with much of it coming from countries in South America where foot and mouth disease is endemic. 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. Further, whether intentionally or not, it is actually prejudicial to the future of producers like me who have no interest in exports of animals, dead or alive. We are building a niche market, diversifying, farm in an environmentally and animal-welfare friendly way, encourage visitors to come and see how their food is produced, constructing local networks involving conservationists, educationalists, retailers and other groups, and yet we find it increasingly difficult to survive because our produce is caught up in the same bureaucratic and administrative jungle as manufactured and factory-farmed food produced by agri-business.
The policy of culling is cruel, morally indefensible, and has been proven a failure. In the interests of animal welfare, the livelihood of small and specialist producers, the economy, and the image abroad of the United Kingdom, it is time to vaccinate.
In reply to readers with small flocks/herds, the following pour-on (which I make up as a fly repellent for my horses) might be of interest.
100ml of citronella oil,
50ml washing up liquid. (I use the cheapest own brand from Tesco washing up liquid.)
Mix all together and finally make up to 2litres with VERY strong tea.
Allow to cool.
Then use as necessary by wiping over animal (short coats) or simply pouring on down back line (sheep) This really does work and none of my horses suffer with flies for up to 8 hrs after application.
This is my own recipe and not tested in any way. I can only report my own findings but it is cheap. Citronella oil has been used for many decades in fly repellents, but last year or perhaps the year before, EU regulations banned it in horse fly repellants. BUT, it was made clear that citronella oil could continue to be used so long as the preparations such as I have described were made up for own use only, and that the ingredients should purchased in separate commodities.
It cannot be sold on the open market.. But there was nothing in the regulations to ban sharing of recipes!
Hope this helps. The recipe is my own; there are variations of it being used by thousands of people who have tweaked it to suit.
Have just heard that a group of Livestock Auctioneers took a deputation to DEFRA Headquarters to explain the difficulties in getting stock slaughtered within the Bluetongue restriction zone - only to be shown a List of Slaughterhouses in the area some of which had been closed for 5 YEARS and some of which were tiny slaughterhouses killing only 5 or 6 beasts a week for themselves.
Do we suppose that DEFRA is still paying Vets (foreign probably) and Meat Inspectors to police these non-existent slaughterhouses, all of which were closed down by themselves at the behest of supposed EU Regulations.
The pesticide recommended by DEFRA for spraying the inside of your vehicles when transporting to the slaughterhouse (if you can find one) does apparently does NOT kill midges, and is not licensed for use on animals. I do understand today from our local Animal Health Office that they are no longer insisting on the animals being sprayed!
Any abattoir in the surveillance zone is now completely snowed under with all the animals that previously would have gone to slaughterhouses outside it. What is the NFU doing? What is the RSPCA doing about the attendant welfare problems - just about as much as they did in 2001 -- ABSOLUTELY NOTHING.
I suppose we should not be surprised at all this - lest we forget some classic DEFRA nuggets - e.g. What Breed of Cattle is Ditto? When did you purchase the homebred heifer? Is your bull a male or a female? etc.
Perhaps DEFRA should issue Midges with digital maps of the surveillance zone - this of course may present a problem in itself since DEFRA has a problem with getting maps right!
They cannot get more stupid.
You are becoming very famous! Recommended in the best journals!
I too would find it completely outrageous if sheep treated with a dangerous chemical had been sent for slaughter within the minimum withdrawal period.
But the reports I have heard make little sense. The BBC reports say that the offending substance was doramectin, used as a treatment for sheep scab. If so, the report that the abattoir vet thought he could smell sheep dip must be nonsense.
The only doramectin treatment for sheep listed on the NOAH compendium is an injection with a withdrawal period of 70 days (an organic farmer using it would be required to double this period to 140 days).
There is a ‘pour-on’ listed for use on cattle - but not for use on sheep - so if the vet could smell it, it had been misused: and if the vet had cause for suspicion that the lambs had been treated illegally, why would the carcasses have got far enough through the system to require recall of the meat and announcements on the national news?
The answer is to buy organic meat directly from the farmer in the local Farmers’ Market.
Middle Campscott Farm Lee Ilfracombe Devon
Please could you add this link to your excellent site.
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.
http://petitions.pm.gov.uk/DairyCattle/#detail "We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to Vaccinate as a routine all UK DAIRY herds against F&M."
PS Question One to South East NFU (from Ashley)
Why can' t we just vaccinate our cattle and get on with life. Why does the NFU NOT support vaccination for FMD BUT does for IBR, BVD, Lepto and will support Bluetongue when that becomes available.....Some straight answers please and not the export / europe line etc etc.. we are a sovereign state I believe....Question Two (3 days later)
No reply to my question and comments re vaccination of cattle. Perhaps if there was no compensation the NFU would support this option. Just 30 pence per cow and we avoid this blood letting..................so we can't export to Angola..so what...Reply from the South East NFU -
I apologise for the delay in responding to you - we are a small team here in the regional office, and as you can appreciate, we are snowed under trying to deal with members queries on what they can and cannot do given the FMD restrictions and now the Bluetongue restrictions, apart from dealing with animal welfare issues.I think it called towing the party line...these people make me so angry !!
As far as the NFU is concerned, vaccination is indeed one of the tools available to us to meet our objective of controlling and eradicating FMD. However, it is not up to us to make any decision on its use. Any decision around vaccination during an FMD outbreak will be guided by EU and UK legislation and will involve veterinary risk assessment. The NFU has supported the UK Government’s actions in preparing the vaccination teams - this action is in line with the UK FMD disease control strategy. These teams have now been stood down, as the veterinary assessment is that the disease is currently under control. A decision to introduce emergency vaccination may be made when outbreaks threaten to become widespread, or when other EU Member States are at risk. Such a decision would normally be made by EU Standing Committee procedure, either at the request of the EU Member State directly affected, a Member State at risk, or initiated by the EU Commission itself in consultation with the affected Member State . While the current outbreak is being dealt with using surveillance, monitoring and culling for disease control purposes, there is currently no justification to introduce an active vaccination regime as a disease control tool
I would guess that all readers of warmwell will be feeling for you. Your letter shows how people like us simply cannot comprehend why - when modern and robust vaccines exist that have proved their worth in other countries - the UK does not choose to use them - preferring to defend their indefensible 2001 stance instead of pressing with EU partners to change those outdated EU trade rules. It is heartbreaking for all of us - but I am desperately hoping it will not turn out to be heartbreaking personally for you, Ashley.
Can you listen to this morning's Farming Today? They picked up the request for views on vaccination and wheeled out a veterinary epidemiologist called Nick Taylor from Reading University. He said that the ring vaccination I had proposed could be done with, for example, a 10km ring: but we would still need movement restrictions and surveillance and culling where disease was found. The gain would be that there would be no more outbreaks: but we might not get any more outbreaks anyway and the ring might not necessarily work. There might be other outbreaks found outside the ring and then more and yet more vaccination would be needed and it might get very expensive. It was a question of balancing costs and risks and at the moment it would be best to wait and see.
He then dealt with the suggestion, ascribed to Dan Cook from Wiltshire, that the EU rules for export should be changed. He declared that this would mean a return to the situation on the Continent in the past when stock had to be routinely vaccinated. The vaccine was not 100% effective and disease could arise as a result of accidents with the vaccine. He mentioned Saudi Arabia where the high value dairy herds need to be vaccinated every 4 months and South America where the animals are vaccinated annually.
His assumptions and interpretations were not challenged. For example, would it really be more expensive to vaccinate all stock in a 10km ring than to kill so many uninfected animals on contiguous farms? His conclusion that changing the timescale for the resumption of trading after eradication of FMD by vaccination would mean permanent use of vaccination throughout the EU seemed perverse in the extreme - but the compliant interviewer did nothing to pick this up. Very frustrating! I will email them again: but it might be helpful if someone who really knows what they are talking about, like Colin Fink or Ruth Watkins contacted them.
Defra and EU foot and mouth controls do seem to waste a lot of healthy animals and edible meat, plus scatter movement restrictions over large areas for damaging periods of time. Recent nationwide restrictions (at times reaching far into remote areas of Scotland and Wales) seemed rather "Over The Top" for isolated outbreaks of FMD vaccine strain around a vaccine production unit in Surrey. The Defra response seemed to be based more on indiscriminate panic, than any practical or science-based rationale.
Is this another case (like the 2001 epidemic) of Defra fighting today's battles with yesterday's mindset?
I can see the point in imposing a widespread movement ban for the first 48 hours after a FMD outbreak, but after that control measures surely need to be much more focussed i.e. based on tracings and risk assessments - unless of course the virus is clearly going wildly out of control.
The reason I say this is that economic health of the livestock industry is paramount in stopping disease spread. When a farmer's business - that he or she may have worked and struggled all their life to build up (maybe even handed down in the family for generations) - faces collapse, the owners face a very stark prospect: "Obey the biosecurity rules and lose the farm". What I have seen again and again in epidemics is that many people in this desperate (i.e. facing business collapse or cruel neglect of livestock needs) situation will choose to take a "calculated risk" to "bend" or break movement restriction rules. In some of these cases, the animals of these desperate folks WILL harbour or spread the virus.
So it's no use having clever biosecurity precautions, if desperate folks facing ruin are going to break the rules. National movement bans must be absolutely kept to a minimum and the economic health of the industry supported - the poor economic state of the sheep industry was a major factor leading to the 2001 epidemic being so severe.
Michael Meredith www.pighealth.com
I can't believe that this 'small'. 'contained' outbreak is showing no sign of being under control. The misery and anxiety of all livestock owners within the surveillance zones and beyond will know no bounds. Already there are more premises culled out without confirmation of infection than there are premises where infection has been confirmed. Two months export trade has already been lost. and it will be months before normal trading within the home market will be resumed. Are the DEFRA officials and their advisers completely lacking in common sense or do they just enjoy killing sentient and valuable farm stock? Or do they just enjoy the feelings of power over lesser humans who are no longer allowed to object to their healthy stock being killed?
The new Animal Welfare Legislation puts the onus on animal keepers to protect their charges from illness and injury, but the government prevents those who wish to abide by this law and prevent their stock from becoming infected with FMD, from using the modern vaccines which have been developed. It is high time we all rebelled against our 'Nanny' state and insisted on those who wish to vaccinate being allowed to. A couple of weeks ago I understood Dr Debby Reynolds to have said that if there were any more cases vaccination would be considered. There have been three more cases plus several 'slaughter on suspicion' culls since but to my knowledge vaccination has not been mentioned again. She constantly refers to the 'humane' slaughter which culling involves. From what I have seen it is definitely 'inhumane'.
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, saying that we should be using vaccination on 'welfare grounds'.
Once upon a time we were considered to be a country where animal welfare was of prime importance, and I think that among the general population that view is still held.
The average member of the public is horrified that vaccination is not being used to eradicate the disease, but feel that they lack the knowledge to voice their feelings. After all, we all know how many fatal diseases in both humans and animals have been eradicated by the use of vaccines. Why should FMD be any different now that we have effective vaccines?
Our once proud nation will soon be the 'laughing stock' of the civilised world.
Why was I so naive as to think that after the 2001 fiasco, which cost the country millions financially and immeasurable loss of morale within the farming industry, we would abandon our antiquated slaughter policy?
It never occurred to me that only six years later our government would be doing its best to repeat the experience - indeed, so keen that it went to the lengths of spreading the infection from its own laboratories at Pirbright. Perhaps the Conservative party could be persuaded that support for a national vaccination policy would increase its share of the votes should Gordon Brown decide on a snap election.
you probably won't remember me but I was very active on the frontline during the old FMD outbreak. (I remember you very well).
At that time I was not involved with farming - just very angry and caring. Since then I have acquired rare breed Shetland cattle and living in Scotland I am hoping the winter cold wipes out the current midge population before they travel the 400+ miles.
I have one question. When a carrier midge lay its eggs and the larva hatch, do the larva and the subsequent midge carry the virus? (My understanding is that there is no evidence of vertical transmission of the virus in the invertebrate host - so the infected female who feeds on blood before laying eggs does not pass on the virus to the eggs and about 20 days after hatching, when the larval stage is over, the new adult must feed on the infected blood of a host animal before, in its turn, passing on the virus. A god reference is this FAO page )
Secondly, I have been speaking with a half Romany Gipsy, Peter Potter (true!) and he was telling me that his 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, particularly the underparts where legs meet body. I believe that it is worth a try to anyone who cannot afford the commercial repellants. He added that his grandfather used to do this every two weeks. I suppose that observation would tell if it works.
Stuart W Brown
The list of diseases that Andrew Tyler maintains are evidence of our disrespect for animal lives is a curious one. Salmonella, campylobacter and e-coli are endemic and can affect human health. They are possibly more likely to spread in large intensive units, and the risk of cross infection is increased in large industrialised abattoirs. The cause of BSE is not fully understood, but if it was the result of infected feed then the public should be aware that the infection spread when manufacturers of animal feeds were not compelled to name the ingredients in their products. It has never been scientifically proven that BSE has been the cause of variant CJD in humans.
Although Britain has traded for decades (with intervals when outbreaks have occurred) as foot and mouth disease free without vaccination, the regulations of the OEI stipulate that this status is only attainable with proper bio-security to prevent the disease entering the country.
There is good reason to believe that this country has been trading fraudulently.
The slaughter policy used to eliminate FMD, requires that farm animals are slaughtered when diseased or in contact with diseased animals and permits slaughter on suspicion of animals, without formal proof that they have the disease or any contact with it. This contrasts with the policy (or lack of it) where known carriers of Bovine TB, even those with visible clinical signs are protected by law, but an imperfect test for bTB results in the slaughter of an increasing number of cattle, of which a significant number prove to have no trace of infection. This test is also known to fail to identify all infected animals.
The threat to farm animals from bluetongue is a product of global warming that causes the midges that carry the disease to migrate further north. Avian influenza is only likely to have serious economic consequences for large intensive poultry units - but the contingency plans to house all free range birds could for the smaller poultry keeper be more destructive than the disease. The most worrying aspect of Avian influenza is that it could mutate to become transmissible between humans, but so far the human victims are all thought to have contracted the disease from poultry.
Lumping all these diseases together as Andrew Tyler does is evidence of our disrespect for animal lives, and the willingness of politically motivated people and organisations to disregard honesty and integrity in the way we deal with them, and manipulate and distort evidence for their own ends, - not those of the animals or their keepers. John Tuck
Highgate Farm, Wootton Bassett
As one who has asked repeatedly to be allowed to use vaccination against H5N1 I was shocked to read on FWi (i.e.here) a report about a rapid test for H5N1 which was said to be an important development "because there was no effective vaccination against H5N1".
Can any of your expert contributors confirm this (that there is not effective vaccine against H5N1)? It seems to fly in the face of many reports I have seen which record the success of vaccination against H5N1.
I hope you may get a response, John. Have a look at warmwell's vaccination against h5n1 page The paper here for example, on the subject of vaccinating zoo birds, indicates that "... vaccination should be regarded as a beneficial component of the preventive measures (including increased bio-security and monitoring) that can be undertaken in zoos to prevent an outbreak of and decrease environmental contamination by HPAI H5N1 virus, while alleviating confinement." Sorry not to have more time at present to devote to your question
Re Howard Dalton's reply to Colin Fink in the Times....
Defra does Science - comforting reading!
I love their little comments:
And as for Howard Dalton's statement in his letter, "Vaccination is at the forefront of our disease control policy for foot and mouth disease" - well, I'm speechless with admiration!
- 'Prevention is better than cure"
- "Animal owners appreciate the wider impacts of animal husbandry methods on health and welfare...."
- and when they tell us that their aims are "To reduce impact of endemic diseases in animals" and "To improve animal welfare".
- And when they talk about their "Investment in research, evidence and innovation...."
Meanwhile, the medieval and bloody slaughter continues..........
Who would have thought this would all be happening again? (And who are these DEFRA virologists who exist? Are they being asked their opinion or are they technicians?)
Lots of love
from a sad Quita
P.S. I will gladly send a copy of 'Fields of Fire' free to anyone who would like one. I talk to people wherever I go and it is clear to me that they don't know or understand anything about FMD or the way its current 'cure' is hurting people and animals. Should I send a copy to Debby??
FMD revisited - in all aspects!
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 “The Hefted Farmer” in the aftermath to alert the public to what the farmers had endured and perhaps even more importantly to the devastating effect the eradication policies so very nearly had on the Yorkshire National Park, a heritage site of sympathetic farming (the heafing or hefting of sheep) and the rich wildlife supported thereby. (SSSI for wading birds and ESA for herb rich meadows).
The book was well received and by coincidence is now in its 3rd reprint.
Without wishing to push myself forward I should like to recommend this book which is a collation of first hand stories from local farmers collected by my co - author Barbara Crossley integrated into a whole by myself. (I agree. I have a copy)
We have not intended to make a profit for ourselves but eventually (when we have recouped our investment) to help promote and sustain hill farming.
If any of your subscribers are interested the details are:- “The Hefted Farmer “by Susan Haywood and Barbara Crossley
ISBN 1 904524 20 6
Hayloft Publishing Ltd, Kirkby Stephen, Cumbria CA17 4DJ e-mail: email@example.com
Most sincerely and with very best wishes
I wholly endorse this. It is an astonishing book.
Hi Mary, may be of interest.
I rang Reigate. "We are experiencing high levels of calls ........................ Press 1 for FMD or 2 for anything else.
Pressed 1. Nice chap answers.
ME, "Hi can you answer some questions about the latest FMD fiasco?"
"How many I/P's have you recorded as of 1530 hrs today?"
"Seven, are you sure?"
" So, 7 I/P's. Thanks. How many farms in total have been taken out and how many animals in total have been killed?"
"I don't have that information I am afraid."
"You are the FMD Helpline, why do you not have the information?"
"You have to write in."
"Tried that weeks ago. Doesn't work."
"Sorry but that is what we have been told."
" How many of the Queen's animals have been slaughtered on suspicion so far?"
"They have all been tested and are negative."
"Interesting, perhaps convenient! How long do the tests take to come back from IAH Pirbright?"
" 3 days."
"3 days? Why the delay on I/P one?"
"Don't know. Please write in."
"How do I talk direct to Reigate?"
"Ring (01737 242242) and press option 2 when asked."
"Ok thanks for your help."
I have been waiting many weeks for them to answer my first 12 questions!!
All the best.
Nick, Jack & Keld.
..................................Hi Mary, again.
Further to my last e-mail, I rang Reigate and pressed option 2. (1715 hrs.)
Answer Phone:- " Hi, blah blah blah, We are open from 0900 to 1700 Mon to Thurs and 0830 to 1630 on Fridays!!!!!!. To report a notifiable animal disease please ring 076 23 93 57 54, LEAVE A MESSAGE AND WAIT TO BE CONTACTED!!!!!!!!"
We are in the middle of a serious FMD outbreak, Bluetongue has arrived and these complete tossers are not open, shut up shop early on Fridays and are not open over the weekend!
Further If I'd had suspected FMD/Bluetongue/Swine Fever etc I have had to ring another number and wait for someone to get back to me!
For once I am speechless!
Nick, Jack & keld.
Re Todays entry from Roger Breeze:
"It is time for a serious conversation with UK farmers and the public about the realities of infectious diseases in today's world of rapid global travel and trade "
How heartening to read Roger Breeze once again getting so succinctly to the nub of the problems and his answer to Angus Stovold's Diary for the BBC.
One can only hope that Angus Stovold and fellow members of the NFU will read this and open their minds to a different point of view. Then go further and consult the likes of Roger Breeze.
That way his diary, instead of, as he writes: ................. 'my grandfather's, my father's and my life's work breeding this well- known herd would be finished.'
... could read: 'My grandfather's, my father's and my life's work breeding this well-known herd will still be there to pass on to my children, my children's children and so on, to whomsoever is around to take it from there!!
How about it Mr Stovold?
I may be missing something here. I seem to be missing quite a lot, especially when it comes to the machinations of DEATHRA. But doesn't the RBST have a rare breeds register?
Did I imagine registering my Red Polls on this register for vaccination in the event of a further FMD outbreak?
Is the paper copy of this registration form sent to my vet at the time a figment of his imagination and mine?
Why has there been no mention of this register, never mind promotion of it, to those who keep rare breeds?
And is it worth the paper it is written on given the apparent blood lust at DEATHRA?
If any of your correspondents can shed any light on this question, I would be most interested.
The Directive mentions the word vaccination 145 times. It does not specifically mention rare breeds - but Article 15 states (para 1)
1. Where an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease threatens to infect animals of susceptible species in a laboratory, zoo, wildlife park, and fenced area or in bodies, institutes or centres approved in accordance with Article 13(2) of Directive 92/65/ EEC and where animals are kept for scientific purposes or purposes related to conservation of species or farm animal genetic resources, the Member State concerned shall ensure that all appropriate bio-security measures are taken to protect such animals from infection. Those measures may include restricting access to public institutions or making such access subject to special conditions.Perhaps someone else know more, Huw. I hope so.
Copied below are comments I posted on the Scotsman website relating to the article by Dan Buglass today (link to article below). My frustration with these loose comments being bandied around re vaccination is clear I think!Anne"Yet, if the UK was to adopt a vaccination policy it is almost certain that exports of beef and lamb would be banned".
This statement by Mr Buglass lacks clarity and thus can mislead: i) it is important to distinguish between routine prophylactic vaccination, something which is currently not permitted under the EU FMD Directive, and emergency vaccination to contain an outbreak which is permitted. ii) after emergency vaccination exports to the EU are banned for 6 months cf with the slaughter policy when exports can resume 3 months after the country is shown to be disease free iii) this distinction has no basis in science as the hitech diagnostic tests, NSP free vaccines, and accompanying differentiating tests for distinguishing vaccinated from infected animals can guarantee more reliably than a slaughter only policy (unless you slaughter all the animals in the UK) that a country is disease free. Thus it would be more positive for the NFUS and other stakeholders to be concentrating their energies on lobbying the EU to have the distinction between the two policies removed, rather than calling for the return of a medieval disease control policy involving the slaughter of millions of healthy animals quite unnecessarily. THe NFUS, SEERAD and DEFRA are perceived by many in the scientific world as being completely out of date. It is imperative that the government is advised by those with specialist knowledge in virology and FMD control by vaccination, apoint forcefully made by Dr Colin Fink in his letter to The Times "The government must listen to specialists" 25 Sept.2007. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/debate/letters/article2525010.eceIt is also worth noting the following:i) Compensation to farmers for the loss of earnings as a result of vaccination was in fact payable from the EU to government through Council Decision 90/424/EEC, Articles 3 and 11, although this fact was not “publicised” by our government in 2001.
ii) There is a derogation under the current EU Directive for farmers who have vaccinated their stock to sell meat and milk (untreated i.e. it is does not have to be deboned and heat treated) on the home market immediately the country has been shown to be disease free through testing.
iii) There was, and is, room for flexibility regarding the time scales for declaring a country disease free - the onus is on the country to demonstrate convincingly to the OIE that it is clear of the disease. With serosurveillance and the use of differentiating tests Uruguay was able to obtain the all clear from the OIE in October 2001, and to resume trading (Disease free status with vaccination) with the EU on 1 November 2001. This was only a few weeks after the last case of FMD in late August 2001. The most recent example of this flexibility was when the EU lifted trade restrictions “surprisingly early” after the August outbreak of FMD in the UK.
iv) Regionalisation is also permitted under the EU Directive, whereby areas shown to be free of disease have their restrictions lifted - this means that vaccination can in effect be localised.
From Norm Coates September 22 2007
Evening Mary,Am I right in assuming that the Egham animals would have been infected a couple of weeks before it was discovered in them? (Yes)And can I therefore assume that that would have been about the time that you burnt your hand ie early 20th of August? (about that time, yes.)It was also about a week after the contract plumber, ( we have his name He is unlisted. So who contacted him to do the work at the Pirbright IAH lab?) was told that his case of Legionnaires Disease (see warmwell) was of a non-lethal type, thereby stifling his claim for compensation.His involvement at Pirbright, I think, was before Merial began working on the virus. Was he allowed back in?He is reported to live in Hampton (South-West of London).The current Egham cases are halfway between Pirbright and Hampton! You would take the M3 to get to Hampton from Pirbright which at junction 2 crosses the M25 (J12). See map at - http://www.streetmap.co.uk/newmap.srf?x=505000&y=165000&z=5&sv=505000,165000&st=4&ar=N&mapp=newmap.srf&searchp=newsearch.srfSorry, I don't appear to be too sure about this it was just a thought that just maybe.Hoo RooNorm
had a phone call this morning cancelling a visit to purchase stock, from someone who is now just inside the newly extended Protection Zone.
I was told that the cattle culled yesterday that have come back positive, grazed in a field directly adjacent to Windsor Royal farms. There is apparently a Windsor pig unit just over the fence and a pedigree sheep flock just on from them, and of course deer all around.
They had been told that there are high level meetings (Cabinet was mentioned) going on this morning to decide on the next step. Is it one rule for one and one for another?
I watch developments with interest.
The magazine version of Farmer's Weekly out today (21 Sept) has an article on the source and spread of the current out break of FMD by Jonathan Riley. He quotes "a former senior official" who worked at the IAH site at Pirbright for over 30 years casting doubts on the theory that FMD could have spread from leaking drains.
Referring to the theory that virus escaping from the drains was carried to local livestock on something like workers' clothing or vehicle tyres he quotes the official as saying that this was "asking people to believe improbable, on top of improbable, on top of improbable".
"For this scenario to have worked would require hundreds of thousands of doses to have escaped down the drain," he said.
"The notion that the virus would remain infective on a lorry tyre, at least in sufficient quantities to infect animals, is stretching reason and imagination beyond breaking point," he said.
Jonathan Riley reports that the official hinted at transfer by human contact. "Something or someone is lurking out in the British countryside with the capability of passing this infection on."
The September outbreak raised even tougher questions for those who uphold the leaking drain theory, according to the official.
"I don't believe that those who produced the report are wholly convinced that the drains were the source."
He referred to the inconvenient timing of the virus leak, when the IAH is undergoing a £120m redevelopment with the long term aim of taking on more virology projects.
"One of the aims is to work on viruses that can spread to humans, including avian flu. The last thing they need is for the site to have sprung a leak."
Thinking back, I seem to remember Dr Colin Fink ( here ) writing on 10th August: "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." He would also appear to have been sceptical that such an outbreak of infection could have resulted from infection carried on a car tyre or contractor's boot.
Karen keeps remembering the dairy herd on the Pirbright Estate. Was the milk collection indeed cancelled on 1st August, the day before first case was noticed? And what has happened to the Pirbright dairy herd subsequently?
Middle Campscott Farm
Tel 01271 864621
David Catlow's criteria for using FMD vaccination were shown later in the same programme to be already here and needing urgent implementation.
He said vaccination was justified "if there isn't the resource there to spot the disease early enough". Later on 18th Sept we learnt of lesions 3 weeks old. Clearly the resources were not available to spot the disease early enough.
The programme then goes on to detail lorry drivers' hours legislation. Very sensible legislation to avoid accidents. If vaccination had been done over a suitable area immediately after the first Surrey outbreak was confirmed there would be no need for Scotland to seek relaxation of drivers' rules.
Successive UK Governments have justified EU membership (despite opposition from a majority of the population who care what Government does) by saying we have more influence within than without the EU.
If our current Government continues to believe that, 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.
Regarding the lost export trade for light lamb, why not look at freezing it now ready for later on when Jamie Oliver or some other TV celebrity chef shows us how to cook it and eat it?
if it's good enough for countries which really care about their food why should UK miss out?
Apart from water what can be more important then food? So if there ain't enough time on farming Today to present an accurate and balanced report, why can't it be continued on Today?
PS it's not only the remote hill farmers who are being savaged by current DEFRA policy which appears to avoid FMD vaccination at any cost. Almost every livestock and dairy farmer I know is currently feeling the financial implications of DEFRA's current policies on FMD control (or lack of it).
Early ring-FMD vaccination would have avoided almost all these problems apart from the export thing. Effective communication with consumers could have engaged them in understanding the issues. Instead we have even the most idealistic companies driven to reduce prices just to slow down the flow of animals to their abattoirs.
PPS I wonder if Dick Sibley is finding the current outbreak exciting enough?
(Mr Burns refers to the remark by the former president of the British Cattle Veterinary Association - a vet - that he had found the 2001 fmd crisis "exciting")
Thanks for the email. I suspect that David Catlow went on to make his second point about vaccination - which could have been about vaccination to live - and the programme editor cut it out: an outrageous piece of carelessness and misinformation. If you have a line of communication to David Catlow, it might be worth pointing out that the editing misrepresented him too. He might be moved to complain to the BBC and get the record put straight.
After yesterday's efforts, something rang a bell because Anna Hill took time at the end of the programme to explain that Patrick is advocating vaccination to live and that we now have tests to differentiate vaccinated and infected animals.
Have you any more detail about the animals killed on the 5th outbreak farm where the lesions on the (10?) cattle were about 3 weeks old? I wonder how the public at large could be made aware that cattle as well as the villainous sheep can suffer from FMD and recover without major suffering. Public awareness of this might feed a groundswell of objection to the peremptory slaughter and its costs. Most non farmers I speak to are astonished to hear that FMD is not fatal to animals and not dangerous to humans. NFU spokesmen give out the message that the suffering of the infected cattle is appalling and most people think that it is a kindness to kill them. They also infer that the payment made to farmers for the cattle in compulsory purchase is some sort of grant "compensation" and that the infected animals would be worthless. Can you remember which noble duke in the 1920s opted to treat his infected cows and went on later to win at Smithfield with one of the cows?
Karen and I - and Michael next door are eternally grateful to you for your amazing efforts.
Middle Campscott Farm
Tel 01271 864621
Meanwhile, we hear from another reader, William Proudfoot: " I have just made an official complaint to the BBC regarding the nonsense in the Vaccination Q & A that you highlighted. While it almost certainly will make no difference at all, I feel that as many people as possible should be encouraged to complain about this and other inaccuracies.The more who do so, the more they might have to acknowledge their errors."
After seeing this Lawrence wrote,
"Please reassure William Proudfoot that he should pursue his complaint to the BBC. I am told that they do take listener feedback seriously - and he should persist. (Most complainants, feeling as he does, that "it almost certainly will make no difference at all", only try once...) If he feels his complaint is not being taken seriously, I am told, he should send it to the BBC Rural Affairs Committee - who will take it seriously."( To write to Farming Today you can use this link)
The protection zone gets more and more curious. The diagram below is from the BBC website (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/6999871.stm), 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!
I have corrected an error in the file I sent you earlier - one of the maps was wrong, sorry.
Using http://www.multimap.com/ 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.
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
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
. I know that he was not approving that the animals were subsequently killed - just indicating a precedent for vaccinating. Holland
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
does, had a veterinary profession guided by ethics. Germany
Middle Campscott Farm
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 (http://www.bbc.co.uk/pressoffice/pressreleases/stories/2003/05_may/13/hardtalk_watkinsruth.shtml) 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."
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.
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.
"Roe deer occur widely on Surrey's commons, and were even recorded on quite small sites in relatively built-up areas": (DEFRA funded wildlife project pdf) . The A31, inside the 3km exclusion zone, had to be disinfected yesterday because a deer was hit by a car. Woolfords farm is separated from Pirbright by an arable farm, a wood and a golf course. It does not take much imagination to predict that any escape of the O1 BFS 1860 virus from IAH Pirbright or the Merial laboratory could now be infecting these deer.
In their paper "Foot-and-Mouth Disease in Deer: implications for the policy of control and eradication of the disease" Paul Sutmoller and Paul Gibbs suggest that if deer are infected then
" all livestock in the area should be vaccinated or re-vaccinated, preferably within three months to obtain an optimum population immunity. Re-population of the area with vaccinated livestock does not need to wait for the infection to peter out in deer. d) The official opinion that FMD infected roe deer constitute a low risk, because sick animals hide and probably die, is not valid. Like cattle or sheep, susceptible deer are very infectious prior to the development of lesions while they still actively move and graze. Also deer with sub-clinical or minor lesions will still roam around."In considering their next move it is to be hoped that the relevant authorities are aware of such expert advice. This paper too, written for warmwell during the last outbreak by a scientist who soon afterwards rose to a high position in the FAO, should be essential reading for those who want to know the real facts about vaccination and transmission of virus.Dear MaryI 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.LoveJonJon Dobson
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
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
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
"senior officials in the organisation were confronted with the inherent conflict brought about by the knowledge that the adopted strategy could not work, and was not working, and their decision to persist with that strategy."Dr North went on to explain that
"Research indicates that cognitive dissonance has a particularly powerful effect on behavior when there are strong pressures to justify initial decisions. The less justified those decisions, the greater will be the dissonance. Furthermore, the inability to admit error increases with the degree of seriousness of the error made: the more serious the error, the more bizarre will be attempts to justify the unjustifiable. Thus, given the overweening confidence of MAFF that it is always right, it was inevitable that, when its initial slaughter policy showed signs of catastrophic failure, it would resort to further slaughter."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.
My letter has been published in today's Independent.http://comment.independent.co.uk/letters/article2964525.ece
Foot-and-mouth strikes againSir: 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.
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.
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.(Warmwell's Bluetongue page is here)
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.
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 @ www.telegraph.co.uk :
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
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..." England
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.
From Hilary Peters (whose real food diary (new window) is a joy)
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.
Preliminary tests show the latest outbreak of foot-and-mouth involves the same strain as that which infected herds last month, BBC News understands. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/6992466.stmOk, 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!================spratt_final.pdfRecommendation 8. As a matter of urgency, Defra should require thatactions are taken to ensure the effluent drainage system at the Pirbrightfacility is fully contained and its continuing integrity confirmed by regularinspections. In the interim, we advise that work with infectious virus shouldonly be allowed if effluent released into the pipes has first been completelyinactivated.If infectious FMDV is released into the effluent pipe (as suggested by their SiteDirector), leakage into the soil surrounding the effluent pipe from Merial is likelyto have occurred for months and probably years, and yet the 2007 FMD outbreakis the only one that has occurred around Pirbright. Thus for this scenario theremay have been some special feature that resulted in live FMDV being releasedfrom the drainage system and becoming a hazard.One possibility is that FMDV was brought to the surface by a rise in the watertable during the exceptionally heavy rains on and around the 20 July. FMDV hasbeen shown to be able to survive in soil for three days in warm weather andabout four weeks in cold weather (Animal Health Australia 2002). In the relativelycool summer weather during the infection window (the highest temperaturerecorded in the Pirbright area over this period was 22.5oC) the virus should havebeen able to survive in soil for several days.A further possibility, identified by the HSE inspection of the drainage system, iscontamination resulting from overflow of effluent from a manhole onto the surfaceof the ground. The period that discharge of O1 BFS virus into the effluent systemmay have occurred coincided with groundwork on the site, including heavy lorrytraffic.---------------------------finalreport.pdfRoadway221 Throughout the period under investigation, work was undertaken to remove soiland subsoil from the new roadway and lay a new surface. Some of the material wasremoved from site to a number of locations in the local area. Other material was usedelsewhere 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 theeffluent drains leading from the IAH facility. This is shown in Figure 6. On 20 July workon the roadway was affected by the heavy rainfall: a small trench was dug at this timeto try and divert water away from the portacabin facility used by the contractors in thevicinity 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 thePirbright 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. - Norm236 We identified that the route taken to Compton from the Pirbright site includedWestwood Lane in Normandy, close to the first affected farm and known to be used bythe 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-axlevehicles) transported 15-tonne loads of uncovered subsoil from the Pirbright site toCompton using this route. During this time both the Pirbright site and roads en-routewere subject to flooding.238 We established that on 25 July, two 32-tonne trucks transported 15-tonne loadsof 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 onsite by a number of vehicles visiting both the IAH and Merial sites. This included a feedlorry, 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 hadbeen used to wash any plant used at the Pirbright site.241 We found no further evidence of category 1 vehicle movements that provided alink between Pirbright and Normandy during the period covered by our investigation...242 We believe that the movement of material contaminated with live FMDV virusO1 BFS along Westwood Lane provides a credible link between the Pirbright site andthe first affected farm.243 We conclude that it is likely that soil and/or materials contaminated withlive FMDV strain O1 BFS was removed from the Pirbright site between20 and 25 July 2007.244 We conclude that this represents a breach to the biosecurity arrangementsat the IAH site.245 We conclude that it is likely that vehicles contaminated with this soil passeddown Westwood Lane close to the first affected farm246 We conclude that this occurred within the time period advised by Defra asbeing the most likely period of initial exposure of cows at the first affected farmto FMDV strain O1 BFS.247 Considering all the other evidence we obtained during our investigation, weconclude that this is the most likely mechanism by which the first affected farmbecame infected with FMD.=============3.3 Survival of FMDV in the environmentSurvival of FMDV in the environment will depend upon the nature of the materialcontaining it; the initial concentration of virus in the material; the strain of virus; thehumidity; the pH and the temperature, and will therefore be highly variable under fieldconditions. 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 3days on soil in summer and 28 days on soil in autumn. Survival has been reported upto 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 RooNorm
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" - http://www.normandyhistorians.guildford-surrey.co.uk/aandp6.htmlStanford 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 fedtowards the surface water unit, which is a series of buried open-topped concretetanks. Should this become full, it overflows into a small lagoon. This allows water to beheld up before discharge into the Stanford Brook. This system has been in place sincethe 1950s when there was a greater focus on the waterborne transfer of virus...Site drainage characteristicsSite settingThe site is located in a broad valley bottom area at an elevation of between 35 m and40 m AOD. The site is relatively flat in nature with a gentle slope from east to west. Thesite is bounded to the west and south by a small stream (the Stanford Brook) whichruns in a southerly direction, before turning east and heading towards the sewageworks located between Bullswater Common and Merrist Hill (see Figure 12).Site geologyThe site is underlain by the Lower Bagshot beds, which are a series of sands andclays of shallow-water origin, some being fresh water, some marine. They belong tothe upper Eocene formation of the London and Hampshire basin. The lower divisionconsists of pale yellow, current-bedded sand and loam, with layers of pipe clay andoccasional beds of flint pebbles. During the site inspection, material which had beenexcavated on site was examined and found to be consistent with this description.Drainage pathsThe primary run off from paved areas on the site enters surface water drains, whicheither discharge into the public sewer (Merial site), or into the surface water facility onthe IAH site. Groundwater will tend to migrate naturally towards the Stanford Brook,which forms the western and southern boundary of the site, through natural percolationand 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 areasof the site, and it was three to four days since it had rained. In addition, there are aseries of excavations on site which showed varying levels of water within them. This isconsistent with the expected behaviour of material that contains elements with highlyvariable permeability.It should also be noted that the presence of gravel bedding around engineered effluentor surface water drains will act as a conduit for ground water by virtue of its greaterporosity. This may lead to the drainage routes acting as inadvertent land drainage...Flooding historyThe Environment Agency has undertaken some flood risk studies and has publishedthem on their website. Figure 12 shows their predictions for flooding in an approximate1 in 75 year event. This shows lower sections of the site potentially inundated as aresult of the Stanford Brook levels rising, however, the inundation is limited in inactiveareas 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 tocope led to depths estimated at up to 100 mm on a concrete yard area. There is noevidence 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 RooNorm
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.
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.
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.
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
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)."
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.
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
in 2001. UK
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:-
The use of vaccination for foot & mouth disease is part of the Defra contingency plan ( Letters August 11). In 2001, three foot and mouth disease experts explained that the only efficient way of controlling an epidemic is with the use of vaccines. Their vast experience was sadly ignored by our Government.
The modern "killed virus" vaccines are extremely efficient. With the use of polymerase chain reactor machines, results of samples are produced quickly and it is also possible to differentiate between animals that are disease-free, those that are incubating the disease, those that have been vaccinated and those that have had the disease and carry antibodies.
Up to 1992, Europe used preventive vaccination, until persuaded by Britain to cease this practice in order to obtain disease-free status which opened up trade to more overseas markets.
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:
"The first outbreak of FMD was in a field between Westwood Lane and Glaziers Lane with a small stream running on the north edge of the field. This stream is usually dry in the summer, but this year it has had water in it. The stream runs into another stream which flows through the field of the second outbreak which the cattle used as their sole water supply."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.
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 milkMark 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
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)
The S. Telegraph has this today: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007/08/12/nfoot112.xml
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.
(BUT see subsequent email From Michael Greaves )
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 (http://www.fmd-and-csf-action.org/)
(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:
As the ProMED moderator commented today (www.promedmail.org): "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."
- All footpaths must be closed in the protection zone and, at least initially, also in the surveillance zone
- 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:
- 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.
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 invites all readers to contribute to the website, when it is restored, at http://www.fmd-and-csf-action.org/
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:
UK (Surrey) 500+ cattle involved - 500+ cattle destroyed of which some had FMD = 100% score ratingPerhaps we should start becoming a backward country as being smart don't get you nowhere!!
Argentina 189,842 cattle involved all of which were diagnosed as having FMD but only 694 were destroyed = 0.36% score rating
Thank you Peter. Of course Argentina does not have to contend with the EU's imposition on its own Member States of the OIE's "Health" Code which discriminates against vaccination by adding an extra three months (nine months in 2001) to wait before resumption of exports. Mere protectionism now that the technology is, as you say, so advanced. The story of how the rapid diagnostic machine was offered to and rejected by Prof David King and co can be seen here - while this is how warmwell reported the Penrith meeting you mention:
Sept 17 2001 ~ The meeting in Penrith Cumbria has been reported on by several sources and we await news from the local press there who also attended the meeting
one report : " Prof Brown has studied the disease for the past 46 years and has condemned the Government's handling of the epidemic as "complacent". .... Organisers of the meetings have brought along a portable rapid diagnosis device to show members of the public. They claim that the invention would allow vets to diagnose the disease within two hours compared to the days it takes a laboratory. Professor Brown said the aim of the meetings was to educate people about the disease and help answer their concerns. He said the feedback he was getting was that the majority of people were in favour of introducing vaccination to eradicate the disease. "Another message that is coming across is that many people in the veterinary profession are starting to feel disgusted and uncomfortable with what they are doing and what they are being asked to do," he said. Another report from Julian at Heart of Cumbria can be read here
August 10 From Dr Colin Fink, Virologist & Hon. Senior Lecturer in Biological Sciences University of Warwick
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
DEFRA REIGATE ADMIT THE DECISION NOT TO CLOSE FOOTPATHS WAS POLITICAL .............!
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!
NICK GREEN ASKHAM
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."
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
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 www.compost.org.uk 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.
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.)
You might like to add my letter in today's Independent to your armoury. Keep up the excellent work.
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.
MICKLE TRAFFORD, CHESHIRE
(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.
DR CAROLINE LUCAS MEP
(GREEN, SOUTH EAST ENGLAND) EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT, BRUSSELS
BBC INTERVIEW WITH BVA VET DAVID CATLOW
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.
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.
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
In response to disease outbreaks in Mexico and Canada in 1954, the Army turned the island over to the Agriculture Department to establish a research center dedicated to the study of foot-and-mouth disease in cattle. Because Congressional law stipulates that live foot-and-mouth disease virus cannot be studied on the mainland, PIADC is unique in that it is the only laboratory in the U.S. equipped with research facilities that permit the study of foot-and-mouth disease.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.
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."
- Are you ring vaccinating around the perimeter of the Surveillance Zone?
- Why were the cattle slaughtered in sight and sound of each other?
- Why were the lorries taking away the carcases only covered by a tarpaulin?
- Why are you not using the RT- PCR's units that were offered to MAFF/Defra as far back as 2001?
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.
Aug 7 2007 From John Brooks
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
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.
August 7 From Lawrence Wright
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.
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 [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: 07 August 2007 11:48
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?
Middle Campscott Farm
August 7 From Sabine Zentis
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
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 jonathanmiller.wordpress.com 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
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?)
Middle Campscott Farm
August 7 From Adrianne Smyth
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,
From Vickie Rogers at the Farmers Guardian
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.
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. www.publications.parliament.uk
12. Defra also funds the core activities of the reference laboratories at the IAH's Pirbright site, which provide emergency diagnostic services for a number of strategically important animal diseases, including foot and mouth disease, African swine fever and bluetongue. This funding is provided through a block grant, the level of which has remained at £1.7 million pa in cash terms for the last three years ie a real term cut. In addition no account has been taken of the increased costs relating to the introduction of FEC making the real cut even larger and leading to a reduction in staff and consumables. The Visiting Group to the IAH in June 2006 noted that the equipment in these laboratories was in desperate need of investment, but this is not possible without additional funding from the Department.
13. In some cases, the gaps in funding which result from Defra's decision-making processes are again met from the IAH's core funding, again provided from the DTI's Science Budget via BBSRC. But this results in financial pressure on other institute activities and is not sustainable in the longer-term.
FUTURE OF THE PIRBRIGHT SITE
14. Work is now underway on the new Pirbright Laboratory which will provide a new Centre for Veterinary Virology supporting scientists from both the Veterinary Laboratories Agency (at Defra's request) and IAH. The budget for the new build is £121 million including inflation and, in terms of capital expenditure, both DTI and Defra have committed their full contribution for the life of the project (2004-12). Operating costs of the new Laboratory will be higher than the existing Pirbright Laboratory and the most recent version of an "Affordability Model" shows a funding gap of £8.2 million per annum.
15. BBSRC are committed to paying their proportionate share of the affordability gap, but Defra have not yet been able to commit to funding its/VLA share of the potential future funding gap - as per Recommendation 1 of the Gateway 2 report of 9 February 2006. This commitment is being sought as a matter of considerable urgency as the main builders are working on final plans and costings, and are due to start work on the main laboratory complex in July 2007 after completion of the Gateway 3 procedure in May 2007.
Another reference, from the BBSRC mentions 104 redundancies since 2005. www.publications.parliament.uk
PS received shortly afterwards
Q159 Dr Iddon: Are we in danger of losing some research which is vital for the national interest as a result of the declining Defra funding in what you call this hiatus with government?
Professor Shirley: I would say yesYear on year, we are able to do less science or we are able to employ less people, and this is an area of work that spans from foot and mouth through to blue tongue virus, which we have become acutely aware of more recently, to African swine fever, to other exotic pathogens which pose a threat to the UK. We are forced to look at this whole are of activity to see where we can juggle the research, so there is a risk that we will lose critical expertise. 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 RooNorm(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
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?
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?
From Judy Tuthill August 6
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,
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
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. .
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
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.
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.
From Patrick RustAt a press conference (questioning not
being allowed however) by IAH director Professor Martin Shirley it is now
"...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.
Could this kind of experimentation be classified as "limited use"?
Unfortunately this kind of question hasn't been asked yet.
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!
Theresa and Ian
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.
From Sabine Zentis farmer
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...
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,
From Charles Abel, Head of Content at the Farmers Weekly Group
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
3. Foot and mouth beef producer supported by local farmers
5. Calls for foot and mouth vaccination too soon?
6. Farmers supportive of foot and mouth movement ban despite difficulties
8. Foot and Mouth Symptoms
9. Foot and mouth: The newspapers' verdict
11. Foot and mouth outbreak in
Surreystuns farming community
12. Foot and mouth disease - Farmers Weekly Interactive's special report on the outbreak at
Head of Content
From Pat Rickett
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.
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?
Aug 10 2007 From Jane Barribal at Farmtalking
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 - http://petitions.pm.gov.uk/To-live-now/
Jane Barribal - Farmtalking'
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