Spread of disease
Q Why will DEFRA not reveal the precise method or methods of spread for 88% of premises in this epidemic?
Because if they did, it would show that the models were flawed and therefore the culling policy was as well.
In order to choose the best way of controlling any disease we need to know how it spreads. DEFRA will not reveal the precise method or methods of spread for 88% of premises in this epidemic.
Revealing details of spread of the disease would also helps us to identify how many of the 2026 infected premises really were infected ( 1326 have positive lab tests, 401 have negative tests and 301 were untested).
FROM NAO report
THE 2001 OUTBREAK OF FOOT AND MOUTH DISEASE
Methods of spread of the disease 33
Source: The Department's Epidemiology Report of 21 October 2001
1. The Department defined 'local spread' as 'spread between infected premises within three kilometres of each
other'. ( the definition of local spread given by Veterinary Laboraatory Agency is "within 3 km of a previously infected confirmed IP and more
than one conveyor")
2. The Department considered that most local spread was attributable either to aerosol spread between animals or
from contamination, for example of roads or common facilities, by poor biosecurity on leaving and returning
The Imperial college modellors said in March spread was due to animal contact and short distance aerosol spread ( ie contiguous)
The Imperial college modellors said in October spread was due to movement of animals, personnel or vehicles rather than through animal contact or aerosol spread. ie not necessarily contiguous.
Why had the modellors view changed? Because they now knew there were many more market related infections than they previously thought.
The main reasons why DEFRA can not/ will not reveal spread are:-
1. Of 2026 IPS, 401 were negative therefore there is no method of spread because the farms were not infected
301 were untested - to investigate these farms in any detail may also reveal no method and
therefore a significant number of these may also not have been infected.
2. For the IPs which were infected to reveal their methods of spread would also highlight deficiencies in DEFRA's disease control policies.
For example an IP could be within 3km of another confirmed premises (that is clinically confirmed not laboratory confirmed) but it might also have received infected animals that DEFRA did not trace - this premises would have been infected by the movement of animals not because of its proximity to another IP.
In a nutshell, disease transmission has to be shrouded in mystery because close analysis would reveal that up to 35% of confirmed IPs were not actually infected and the disease was not spreading contiguously.
The mathematical models were flawed
Q. Does Mr Bender accept now that the modelling data was flawed?
a) they were based on 80-90 farms becoming infected before the movement ban
- VLA tracing project ( partly reported in select committee) shows over 300 cases may well have been infected pre-movement ban
The key fact is that many of these farms were not identified for weeks even months after they were infected.
For the epidemic as a whole 171 cases were identified on antibodies only - that is by the time they were found lesions were healed the only evidence of disease were antibodies.
b) Negative cases- we know now that of the first 909 cases only 549 cases had positive lab tests ( this was because most diagnosis was based on clinical signs - very difficult with sheep)
The models assumed the vast majority of initial cases were infected.
c) a hypothetical species was used (ie disease characteristics for sheep, cattle, pigs were average) - most of the disease was confined to sheep.
Department's Epidemiological Modelling Team and researchers at Imperial College and Cambridge University, which showed that farms within 1.5 kilometres of infected
premises had a 17 per cent chance of later being infected. The Imperial Team advised that it was too risky to wait for infection to be identified during patrol visits: cases would inevitably be missed. This judgement was supported by other epidemiologists. They recommended prompt contiguous culling to reduce the scale of the epidemic dramatically.
Q Does Mr Bender accept that proper analysis of actual epidemic data would now show for the reasons given above that the modellers' advice was flawed?
DISCREPANCIES in NAO report
Q. Why is there a discrepancy between NAO and PQs and EFRA report in the figures about clinical diagnosis and delays in slaughter times?
Some data included in the NAO report contradicts data we have had via Parliamentary questions, and data that is in EFRA select committee report re clinical diagnosis and delays in slaughter times
a) clinical diagnosis
NAO report 38 p63- 'Infected premises confirmed on clinical grounds 78% tested positive.'
This is not true According to DEFRA's own data, 62% of the clinically confirmed cases were laboratory positive, not 78%.
Source 1 EFRA select committee report p 43 of minutes for 31/10/2001 and
Source 2 figures I was given by the JCC data analysis department DEFRA
Test results Summary
J Sucdamore 31/10/01 JCC data analysis
No. Infected Premises 2026 2026
No. laboratory positive 1326 1324
No. laboratory negative 402 401
No. untested 298 301
No. clinically negative, lab positive 175 171
The clinically negative laboratory positive are those premises where by the time DEFRA traced these premises all clinical signs of disease had gone and the animals were confirmed on antibodies.
The statement ' 78% of infected premises confirmed on clinical grounds tested positive on laboratory test' is simply not true.
Using JCC stats (ie DEFRA's own) which are the most accurate
Clinical positive IPS 2026 - 171 = 1855
Laboratory positive 1324 - 171 = 1153
so there were 1855 clinical positive cases of these 401 tested negative and 301 were not tested, that leaves 1153 laboratory positive.
Thus 62% of the clinically confirmed cases were laboratory positive, not 78%.
One of the problems in this epidemic was misdiagnosis. This problem is graphically illustrated if you look at the distribution of negative IPS across the country On a county basis the percentage of negative laboratory test results ranges from 7.5% to 60%. (I can send this stuff it is thought significant for your purposes)
b) Delays in slaughter
According to NAO
Premises classified as dangerous Number of Within >24 to 48 >48 to 72 More than
contacts and contiguous to an premises analysed 24 hours hours hours 72 hours
infected p remises ( note 3 ) (note 2 ) % % % %
Pre 27 March 2001 452 1 5 6 88
Post 27 March 2001 2,697 11 34 18 37
Over entire epidemic 3,149 9 30 17 44
BUT according to Parliamentary Question/answer
Slaughter times for contiguous farms classified as dangerous contacts for the 2001 epidemic are as follows:-
(reference: PQ 5478 24/04/02)
Slaughter within - 48 hrs 137 ( 5%) 29 March
stated hours of - 72 hrs 710 (24%) 30 March
identification - 96 hrs 620 (21%) 31 March
- > 96 hrs 572 (19%) After 1 April
->120 hrs 927 (31%) After 2 April
Admittedly there are 183 more premises in the NAO sample but even if all 183 were slaughtered within 24 hrs it would still not be 9% slaughtered within 24 hrs for the epidemic as a whole
Why is there a discrepancy in the figures? It matters very much indeed. If the slaughter delays are massaged then it appears that King's assertion that animals killed in preemptive culls were already incubating the disease does hold water. It does not!!
Contiguously killed animals were NOT likely to have been incubating disease
David King, the Chief Scientific Adviser, gave an example which has been extracted from NAO Inquiry report (18/06/2002) (3.93 p 70) to demonstrate why - even though animals killed were not showing signs of disease - they were likely to have been incubating disease. It looks plausable
Date contiguous premises infected with virus Date contiguous premises culled Date clinical signs would have appeared if premises had not been culled 25/03/01 28/03/01 30/03/01
BUT... remember that you can't guess that an animal has FMD before the appearance of clinical signs. These appear several days after first infection - and once they do appear the animal is producing a great deal of virus.
The date on which most contiguous farms would first be exposed to infection will be the day before clinical signs appear on the (IP) infected premises ( in the above example, 25 March) because before this time there will simply not be enough virus produced by sickening animals to affect the contiguous farms .
In this epidemic, since blood testing was not done to ascertain disease in advance, most infected premises were found the day after clinical signs appeared. (So, in Prof King's example above, the infected IP farm would have been identified on 27 March along with its associated contiguous farm. By 27 March the contiguous farm - if infected - would already be 2 days into its own incubation period, infected but not yet infectious.)
The VITALLY IMPORTANT thing to remember is that - because of lack of manpower and inefficient slaughter organisation - there was a 4-6 day DELAY or more in slaughtering the contiguous farm ( see above: we have got the evidence for this
The 1-2 day delay in identifying the infected premises and its associated contiguous farms coupled with the 4 to 6 day delay in slaughter on contiguous farms means that by the time the slaughter teams came to kill animals on contiguous farms clinical signs would have been apparent if the animals had been exposed to FMD virus.
And yet this was not so. When farmers complained that their slain animals were perfectly healthy they knew they were right - and they were right. No farmer would have objected to his animals being taken out if they really were posing a risk (farmers made no objections in 1967 to the sensible policies adopted) - but, in 2001, the heartbreak of knowing that his stock was being sacrificed to save the government's face was altogether too much to bear.
Q. The NAO was supposed to be an Independent Inquiry. Can Mr Bender explain why it quotes word for word from Defra's own "Inquiry Liaison Unit's History of the Epidemic" a 62 page document available only from DEFRA?
There have been repeated allegations of links between the pig industry, swine fever and FMD
Q. Can Mr Bender please inform us of the identity of
the company receiving most of the compensation for the swine fever outbreak?
Can we please have a figure for the total of taxpayer's money paid to this
Privately, the answer we're looking for is BQP (British Quality Pigs) or the parent ABF or other
subsiduaries. It would take the press ten minutes to link this to all sorts
of very prominent people. The **** will really hit the fan. Justifiably too.
If someone is really brave they should ask "Does this company have links to
mainland China?"However, maybe this is all in a different category of questionning and is perhaps for another day. That some almighty cover-up is taking place seems beyond doubt to us. There are some very shady areas indeed connected to the Meat Industry and a huge loss of public money.
Dr Shannon, the head of DEFRA's own scientific group and at the heart of the decision-making process , spoke out when he retired.
Q Was Mr Bender aware of Dr Shannon's disquiet and did he share it?
"It [the group] had enormous power with no direct responsibility, it seemed to me," said Dr Shannon. "It was driving what the Government was doing - and of course if there were any flaws in its composition or mode of operation you could have a flawed mechanism driving policy."
He blamed the composition of Prof King's Special Advisory Group for its failure to foresee that a contiguous cull policy would lead to vast piles of discarded carcasses littering the countryside.
"The modelling was carried out in a strict disease control mode without taking account of the environmental consequences of the outcomes," Dr Shannon said. "The absence of the full range of sciences meant that many of these issues had to be debated elsewhere and subsequently."
He suggested that the software used to predict the spread of the disease was not sufficiently sophisticated for the purpose and needed further development.
Q. Below are the 1993 EU recommendations for national and local disease control centres. They make such very good sense. Did DEFRA decide to ignore them in compiling its own contingency plan - or was it unaware of them?
SECTION 3 - NATIONAL DISEASE CONTROL CENTRES (see http://www.warmwell.com/conplan.htm )
3.1 Each country establish a permanent DISEASE CONTROL CENTRE at the national level. In the event of an outbreak of FMD the centre should co-ordinate all control measures within the national territory. Although the centre is established primarily for the control of FMD, the facilities may also be used for the control of other List A diseases.
3.2 The centre should be in proximity to the office of the Chief Veterinary Officer (CVO) who is ultimately responsible for the co-ordination of all control measures. The CVO may delegate day-to-day responsibilities in this area to a veterinarian designated as the head of the control centre.
3.3 The National disease control centre should be kept in a state of readiness for a disease outbreak. Its main task is to direct and monitor the operations of the local disease control centre or centres and the responsibilities include :
- the overall direction of control strategies,
- the deployment of staff and other resources to local centres,
- the provision of information to OIE and FAO and to neighbouring countries, to national agricultural and trading bodies and to the press and other media, the release of vaccine for use within the country and the determination of vaccination zones,
- liaison with the national diagnostic laboratory.
3.4 The Centre should be equipped with :
- all suitable means of communication including telephones, telex, data lines, and telefax; facilities for the press are desirable,
- maps covering the area of the country (preferably at 1:50,000 scale),
- lists of national organizations which will be affected by and must be contacted in the event of disease outbreaks (e.g. AI organizations),
- lists of staff and other persons who can be called upon immediately to serve at local disease control centres or in Expert Teams in the event of a disease outbreak. These lists should record practical experience or training in the control of List A diseases and language abilities.
3.5 The staffing of a National disease control centre is dealt with in Section 6.
SECTION 4 - LOCAL DISEASE CONTROL CENTRES
4.1 Each country should establish one or more Local disease control centres which may be the existing local veterinary offices. The number and location of the centres should be such that staff operating out of a centre can easily reach any livestock holding within the area under its control and return to the centre within a day. In those countries which have a small land area the national centre may also serve as the local centre.
4.2 The National disease control centre should maintain a list of Local disease control centres and for each the name of the veterinarian in charge, the address of the centre, its telephone, telex, data lines, and telefax number and a map showing the area under its control.
4.3 In the event of a disease outbreak a temporary disease control centre may be set up that is convenient to the location of the infected premises. This centre should preferably be within the surveillance zone surrounding the primary outbreak.
4.4 The local centres should be under the charge of a veterinarian who is directly responsible to the veterinarian at the National disease control centre. All staff allocated to a centre for the period of the disease emergency should be under his/her de facto command. He/she should have the necessary authority to:
- designate a holding as an "infected premises" (after consultation with, and the sanction of, the National disease control centre if that is considered necessary).
- deploy the necessary staff and equipment to infected premises,
- arrange valuation and slaughter of infected and contact stock, the disposal of carcasses and contaminated material and zoo-sanitary procedures,
- advise on the delineation of protection and surveillance zones and the measures to be taken within them,
- impose movement restrictions within the protection and surveillance zones; close markets and abattoirs as necessary,
- liaise with police and other authorities over the nomination of infected premises and to maintain these movements and other restrictions.
4.5 Local disease control centres, whether permanent or temporary, should be equipped with :
- adequate telephone, telex, data lines, and telefax communications. At least one line should be reserved for communication with the national disease control centre,
- record systems; preferably these should be computer-based,
- maps covering the territory overseen by the centre (1:50,000 and if possible 1:10,000),
- lists of persons and organizations in the area covered by the centre who must be contacted in the event of a disease outbreak. These will include :
* artificial insemination organizations,
* milk cooperatives and dairies,
* local authorities responsible for control measures,
* other official services likely to visit farms,
* markets and auctioneers,
* private veterinarians,
* livestock and meat hauliers,
* animal disposal contractors,
* livestock valuers,
* feed suppliers,
* rodent control companies,
* local veterinary associations,
* hunting and shooting organizations; race tracks,
* slaughterhouses and meat processing plants,
* farmers union,
* telephone companies,
* local environmental health and waste disposal authorities
- contingency plans for all major abattoirs,
These lists should be kept up to date and a notification procedure established.
- facilities for informing the press and other media so that all persons are fully aware of the restrictions in force,
- equipment stores (see Section 7),
- facilities for cleaning and disinfecting personnel, clothing and vehicles.
Q. Similarly the 1993 recommendations set out precise guidelines for the training of personnel and the stting up of expert teams to be called upon in an emergency. Was Mr Bender not aware of this advice - or was it considered too expensive or nort relevant?
SECTION 5 - EXPERT TEAMS
5.1 The prompt identification of the source and the possible consequences of a primary outbreak of FMD is crucial to the rapid eradication of the disease. Expertise in dealing with FMD outbreaks is already becoming scarce and all countries are recommended to create one or more Expert Teams that can provide a nucleus of expertise. The teams should be alerted when disease is first reported and deployed in the field as soon as it is confirmed. The staffing of these Expert Teams is dealt with in Sector 6.
5.2 The Expert Teams have two main responsibilities :
- to conduct an epidemiological investigation and where appropriate collect samples (epithelium, blood, milk, probangs etc) for submission to the National diagnostic laboratory to determine the extent and pattern of infection,
- through the head of the Expert Team to provide an epidemiological report for the head of the Local or National control centre,
- to advise the head of the Local disease control centre on the advisability of taking of samples (e.g. milk) from contiguous or other herds.
5.3 The epidemiological report from a primary outbreak should describe:
- the situation on the infected premises,
- the number and species of susceptible and other livestock; the method of husbandry,
- the number of clinically affected animals and the age of the oldest lesion(s),
- the size and location of the premises and its relationships with other holdings, public roads, etc.,
- the local meteorological situation unless this is available from a nearby meteorological station,
- the recent movements (livestock and personnel) on and off the holding.
5.4 On the basis of these findings the head of the team should advise the Local or National disease control centre on:
- the possible origin and the date of the introduction of infection,
- the likely period of infection on the premises/holding,
- the holdings most at risk from airborne spread or from movements.
5.5 The expert Team should not be responsible for the killing and disposal of stock or for tracing movements on and off the infected premises. These tasks are the responsibility of the Local disease control centre. However, countries may wish to consider including experts in zoo-sanitary measures and carcass disposal in their teams so that they can advise disease control centres on these aspects.
5.6 The team should be provided with sampling equipment (for 250 animals) and communication equipment. Mobile accommodation may be provided and sited just beyond the disinfection barrier outside the infected premises.
5.7 The Expert Team(s) should train staff in FMD control techniques and advise the National disease control centre on the development of new control initiatives.
SECTION 6 - THE RESOURCES REQUIRED FOR DISEASE EMERGENCIES
6.1 Experience has shown that the resource factor most critical to effective disease control is a sufficient number of trained and experienced personnel.
6.2 Each National Authority should maintain lists of staff available to deal with a disease emergency. The lists (to be held at the National disease control centre) should identify:
- the name and location of the staff members,
- qualifications e.g. veterinarian,
- practical experience of List A diseases (specifying the disease),
- language abilities - in the event of a call for assistance from another country,
- training undertaken (see Section 11).
6.3 If some personnel are not under the direct control of the Chief Veterinary Officer there should be a firm agreement preferably in writing between the Chief Veterinary Officer and the employers of such personnel for their immediate release.
6.4 National Disease Control Centres
The veterinarian in charge of a National disease control centre would have at his/her command veterinarians and other staff who have been trained in the management of diseases emergencies (see Section 11).
6.5 Local Disease Control Centre
The staff at Local disease control centres should include :
- Senior Veterinarian in charge,
- veterinarians trained
* in the diagnosis of FMD
* in slaughter, zoo-sanitary and other procedures at infected premises,
* the operation of movement controls and other restrictions,
- support staff who are trained in
* the procedures at infected premises,
* the operation of movement controls and other procedures,
- office staff trained in the maintenance of record systems required for FMD control.
6.6 All staff who are, or may be, allocated to disease control centres should be regularly retrained in disease control procedures and the clinical diagnosis of FMD (see Section 11).
6.7 Expert Teams
Each country should create one or more Expert Teams. The responsibilities of these teams are described in Section 5. Each team should consist of :
- a Senior Veterinarian experienced (or trained) in FMD clinical diagnosis including the ageing of lesions. He/she should also be trained in the epidemiology of the disease.
- a laboratory scientist experienced in laboratory tests for FMD,
- a meteorologist knowledgeable of the weather conditions which may aid the spread of FMD.
6.8 Personnel Resources in the Member State
Each National Authority should ensure that it has immediately available sufficient trained staff to deal with, at any one time, up to 10 outbreaks and to properly maintain surveillance in the 3 Km radius protection zone associated with each. It has been estimated that a trained veterinarian can visit and examine stock at no more than 5 holdings on one day if he/she properly undertakes the required disinfection procedures at each place.
Note : These scope of activities may need to be modified in some countries according to the local livestock husbandry situation.
6.9 If a National Authority does not have the resources suggested in para 8 above, contingency arrangements should be in place to arrange for deployment from other countries.
etc etc - all very sound advice - which was ignored
Of course, the obvious thing that leaps out at all of us, is that the sole reason for the mass slaughter policy was to "protect the export trade". We all argued from the very early stages that the sums did not make sense and that there was no economic case supporting slaughter. We all know what happened in terms of costs.I am still puzzled by the choice made. The excessive costs incurred by the extended slaughter policies (3 km and contiguous culls) when long-established veterinary science argued against it, and subsequent examination of the evidence published so far contradicts the computer modellers claims that were instead favoured by DEFRA. Have you got the figures of costs? And what the export trade was actually worth? Again, they were warned from an early stage of the consequences, but refused to listen - now they must answer. So
Q. Why did DEFRA not grasp the cost implications? Does Mr Bender agree that DEFRA is accountable for this massive squandering of public money?