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Separate rules will apply to camelids (including llamas and alpacas), in view of their small numbers and their lower susceptibility to FMD

Dear all,

Some good news at last !

Although I have been rather silent for the past months, CAUSAL and BLAA have been quietly working together on several fronts. We have been gathering together a wealth of documents and experts to support our arguments that South American camelids (SACs) are not part of the epidemiology of FMD, and consequently should not be treated in the same way as the other major livestock species. (Although DEFRA arent yet doing so, we are now referring to SACs, rather than camelids in general, because the scientific evidence is clearer for them than it is for Old World camels.) We are pleased that DEFRA have now accepted at least some of our arguments, and most importantly that they will no longer group SACs with sheep.

Details of the interim animal movement regime for 2002 will be announced shortly, but DEFRA have confirmed the following today, 18 December:




1. Separate rules will apply to camelids (including llamas and alpacas), in view of their small numbers and their lower susceptibility to FMD. Movements will be permitted under a General Licence, which will stipulate that owners will have to keep records and to have a system for individually identifying their animals. The 20 day standstill will not apply to movements between camelid-only farms. There will be no markets or on-farm sales of camelids for the present. But shows may be allowed subject to rules yet to be agreed.

[We understand that specific licences will be issued for trekking - this should initially be available to professional trekking businesses, and later, we hope, extended to private trekking.]

In the aftermath of FMD, DEFRA is concerned that livestock owners can readily identify the signs of disease and will keep accurate up-to-date on-farm movements records. Rodney and I have convinced DEFRA that, as owners of high value animals which are normally checked on a daily basis, we are unlikely to fail to notice signs of disease. We havent totally won the battle with DEFRA yet, as they say that a SAC on an IP would be slaughtered, but we now have the backing of at least a dozen vets (many are members of the RCVS) in support, and of world-renowned FMD expert Paul Kitching who has written a chapter for an OIE publication stating that SACs are not carriers of FMD. We, that is BLAA, CAUSAL and DEFRA, have agreed to concentrate on the current situation, and leave the issue of SACS where FMD is present in the hands, for the moment, of the Royal Society Inquiry, to which Rodney Newth and I have made a joint submission on behalf of BLAA and CAUSAL for SACs.

Some other news:

In early November, I travelled to the US, where I attended the joint meeting of the US Animal Health Association and the American Association of Veterinary Laboratory Diagnosticians. I had the great pleasure of finally meeting Karen and Marsharee, who have given us so much help and support throughout this outbreak. Our circle has extended to cooperation with many in the US. All of the major players in the science of FMD were there as well, including those working on the new rapid diagnostic devices, as well as experts such as Paul Kitching, Paul Gibbs, Juan Lubroth, Jerry Callis, and Alfonso Torres.

I have also been active at a general level, and most recently in opposition to the proposed Animal Health Bill. Please see Mary Critchleys website, for details of the meeting in the House of Commons, where our own SAC vet, Roger Windsor, gave a powerful and moving speech to loud applause from the audience, which included MPs, vets and the press. Rodney helped by ensuring that no one could leave before signing the register, so we know that even a representative from DEFRA was present.

Enormous thanks to Rodney Newth and BLAA Council for their strong support and collaboration, and to Karen Conyngham in Texas for finding and supplying us with most of the scientific documents which have proved so crucial. I would also like to give special thanks to Stephen Smith QC for his great help in the background with SACs and all species, and to Simon Leach of Burges Salmon, specialist agricultural law solicitors, for his continued support and interest far beyond the call of duty. And, of course, to all of you who have been helping in so many ways.

I hope this message reaches everyone who is interested. I have had endless problems with my computer and email system, so I have hastily put together this email list. Do let me know if any of you want to be removed, or if you think anyone has been left out, and forward it to other SAC owners. Check the CAUSAL and BLAA websites for further information, as well as the DEFRA website for details on the new animal movement regime. Mary Critchley has kindly offered to have some camelid pages on her website, Rodney and I will continue to inform and negotiate with DEFRA, so please do let us know of your concerns and suggestions.

We wish you all a very happy and healthy Christmas and New Year, for you and your animals.

Mary Marshall