journalistsCan we make a concerted efffort to publicise the misreporting in ALL the media at the moment? Even poor old Elliot Morley doesn't seem to get the difference between the serological blood testing (elisa) going on with the huge numbers of sheep in Brecon and now NYorks and a proper VNT test in the lab for the presence of active virus.
The test is for antibodies does NOT detect active virus. The assumption being made is that where there is low immunity the disease is still "circling" - so they kill the lot. If the antibody test shows high levels of antibody they know that there's been a lot of infected sheep - so they kill the lot.
The penning up of the sheep is so that they can be killed easily I fear - the "blood testing" is merely a sop to the public. But they are all lying their heads off and it is a disgrace. If one is a decision maker, ignorance is NO excuse.
Below is the email from my experienced vet chum. what's your view?
".....without using tests that detect virus any observation with regard to whether or not there is active infection - cycling/spreading - within a group/flock based solely on the results of one round of ELISA testing is in my opinion pure speculation. I suspect that Morley is a complete 'innocent' in this - ie. the man is plainly a complete fool/idiot, he says such outrageous things - I believe he's merely parroting what he's given by others. Here's the priblems/issues they face as I see it:
1. They know that the clinical disease in sheep is very hard to spot and clinical signs even if detected are often confused with other conditions. Hence as Pirbright - Donaldson and Kitching - has been saying for months it is not in their (pirbright's) opinion possible to make a definitive diagnosis of FMD in sheep based on clinical signs alone - Pirbright would want clinical signs PLUS detection of antibody (ELISA) and/or virus (VNT).
2. WRT hill sheep on extensive commons grazing it's even less likley that clinical FMD will be spotted. How then are they to decide whether or not there is active infection in hill sheep?
3. They have decided to use serological testing for antibody using ELISA tests as a 'proxy' for infection - ie. if they find seropositive animals they are choosing to 'interpret' positive results as an indication of current infection - strictly speaking that 'association' is not strictly valid - but VNT testing is I'm told time consuming in the lab so I imagine they (DEFRA) are not willing to commission large scale VNT testing from the labs. They will then cull in most instances. yes, this may result in overkill WRT merely controlling the spread of FMDV but then they also wish to reduce the hill sheep population so as far as they (DEFRA) is concerned this overkill is in line with other policy objectives.
I am really very unhappy about the way things are being reported in the press. If only journalists would bother to get their facts right.