'For evil to triumph all that is required is that good men do nothing'
Mrs. E. Jane. M. Barribal & Associates.
2 - Howpark Farm Cottages - Grantshouse - Duns - Berwickshire - TD11 3RP
Reminder of the Facts? - 17th January 2001
Some more information has come my way from yet another unsolicited source, concerning the origin of the recent FMD epidemic. I never cease to be amazed at the tenacity of people to seek the truth in this regard. Many questions are raised by what I've heard and if you can refute anything or know the answers, please let me know!
So, let's just set down the facts, as we believe them to be, from what has been discovered. After all, without an open Public Inquiry, how else are we to know the truth and so prevent a re-occurrence of such a disaster?
Both the Government and the National Press have repeatedly stated the outbreak started at Bobby Waugh's pig farm, Burnside, Heddon on the Wall in North Northumberland. This now seems extremely doubtful.
We were told that the virus was contracted there via improperly prepared pigswill, collected from an army base, containing remnants of FMD imported meat that was fed to his animals. It is interesting to note that the pigswill was collected and prepared by Bobby's neighbour, Jimmy Brown, who also fed the same swill to his own animals. None of Jimmy's pigs succumbed to FMD although they were slaughtered as Contiguous/Dangerous contacts. There seems no doubt that Bobby's animals became infected but 'started the outbreak'? I don't think so!
Bobby Waugh's farm was visited on 24th January 2001 by a MAFF vet accompanied by a Trading Standards officer, for a routine inspection. Of the one hundred and fourteen (114) pens containing pigs at his farm, the animals in five (5) pens were examined and declared healthy.
On 15th February a lorry collected some pigs from Bobby's farm and took them to an abattoir in the South of England, known as, Cheale Meats.
Having unloaded the pigs, the lorry then went on to collect a number of Asiatic Water Buffalo and took them back to premises in Yorkshire. I am told that no cleansing and disinfecting of the lorry, took place after delivering the pigs and before collecting the buffalo. It is very interesting to note that in spite of the high susceptibility of buffalo to FMD, none of them have to date, succumbed to the disease and nor have any sheep that have shared their grazing or lived on adjacent land that surrounds their new home. If the pigs from Bobby's farm were excreting FMD virus on their journey from Northumberland, (and we are told pigs excrete a lot of virus if infected), I have to ask - were these buffalo just extremely lucky or were the pigs from Bobby's farm not infected at that time?
On 19th February the Government announced that FMD had been found at Cheale Meats and subsequently traced to animals from Bobby Waugh's farm. At this stage, I have to ask the question, were the pigs from Bobby's farm kept in lairage at Cheale Meats for four days? I had thought that animals were slaughtered as soon as possible on arrival at the slaughterhouse. It is also interesting to note that apparently during early February, Cheale meats cut down the number of animals accepted for slaughter from approximately 30,000 per week to only 2,000. I'm told the paperwork relating to this has been seen and the reason given for the huge reduction in numbers was that the buildings were undergoing a thorough Cleansing & Disinfecting! I have to ask, was this normal practice or was there a special reason for the thorough cleansing?
Apparently, MAFF told Bobby Waugh that his pigs had been 'carrying' the disease for the past four weeks. When Bobby pointed out to them that would mean they had been infected when they were inspected on the 24th January. They then changed the 'time-frame' from four, to two or three weeks! Then on the 24th February an official from a Government Health laboratory told Bobby, the period of incubation was likely to be no more than twelve days!
It is very interesting to realize that according to MAFF, sheep at Ponteland, five miles from Burnside farm at Heddon on the Wall, became infected on the 13th February and that Bobby's pigs were the source of this infection. On first examination such a theory seems possible, we are told that pigs excrete large amounts of virus but for several days at that time, the prevailing wind was North Westerly, so it seems doubtful the virus could have traveled against the wind! Those infected sheep had been taken to market in Hexham and then on to Longtown market in Cumbria, in both markets mixing with other sheep and thus infecting them and causing the spread of FMD to other areas of the country. Infected they certainly were, but by Bobby's pigs? I don't think so!
It would be interesting to know if the infected pigs from Bobby's farm were among those that had been examined on the 24th January, or did they remain at the farm and were found to be infected after 19th February. Not wishing to cast aspersions on anyone, it would also be interesting to know where Mr. James Dring, the MAFF inspector, and/or the Trading Standards Officer, had been in the few days before visiting Bobby's farm on 24th January. Is there a possibility they inadvertently brought the infection with them? Or did the pigs contract the infection at Cheale Meats? Perhaps it is worth remembering at this stage, that Cheale Meats had been thoroughly Cleansed and Disinfected in early February. We really do need to know why, don't we?
I did wonder if the lorry transporting the pigs was a source of the infection, but it seems unlikely, as it had visited Cheale Meats twice during the significant period and as far as I know, none of the farms, from which animals were collected or delivered to, succumbed to the virus. For that matter, we are now told by DEFRA that the greatest cause of infection is via vehicle, human and animal 'contact', not wind borne, as was so strongly suggested for the first few months of the outbreak. So it's interesting to know that Bobby Waugh himself, visited farms in the Borders of Scotland and Yorkshire, during the significant period and neither of them became infected, although their animals were slaughtered as Dangerous contacts.
I know much of this must seem like 'old news' to many and they might consider it best forgotten, but there are far too many 'ifs', whys' and 'buts' in this story for it to be believed. It is so important that we get to the truth of the matter, to right the wrongs of the past and prepare for the future in the best way possible. The continued reporting of Bobby Waugh as the culprit completely lacks any credibility.
As I said before, if you can fill in the gaps, with the' honest truth' rather than 'fairy stories' or downright 'porky pies' do let me know!
Jane Barribal - Farmtalking