Exercise Hornbeam - The decision whether or not to vaccinate, as in 2001, came not from an Expert group but from Number 10
The exercise did not include a simulation at farm level.
Where should the expertise come from - and accountable to whom? Sir David Shannon told the Lessons Learned Inquiry on 8 April 2002 that the Science Group directing things in 2001 had enjoyed enormous power without any formal responsibility. Dr Iain Anderson too emphasised a point that needs to be written up somewhere in large letters:
"The one area which I believe needs to be emphasised again and again is that in order to get this right for the future .....it needs to be captured in processes which engages people from different agencies outside of the centre." Dr Iain Anderson ________________
See EU foot and mouth Directive's recommendation for an Expert group "composed of epidemiologists, veterinary scientists and virologists in a balanced way" to be "permanently operational"
Exercise Hornbeam - DEFRA's real time simulation of a confirmed foot and mouth disease outbreak during days 7 and 8 to test their contingency plan.
The decision whether or not to vaccinate, as in 2001, came not from an Expert group of "epidemiologists, veterinary scientists and virologists in a balanced way, to maintain expertise in order to assist the competent authority in ensuring preparedness against an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease" (Article 78 of EU Directive) Instead, the decision had to come, and still has to come, from Downing Street.
For Dr David Shannon's view of the 2001 Science Group and lessons to be learned from its mistakes, see his evidence to the Lessons Learned Inquiry.
It should be remembered too that Dr Iain Anderson said to the EFRA Committee "The one area which I believe needs to be emphasised again and again is that in order to get this right for the future .....it needs to be captured in processes which engages people from different agencies outside of the centre. These processes need to become part of routine ...
... it is regrettable that a formalised system of engaging well balanced and well trusted previously communicated scientific advice was not deployed from the very early days........ We will always need the best scientific advice. We should bring it to bear very early on but the preparation for bringing it to bear should start long before an emergency. As routine procedures are in place we call it a standing body which can be advising behind the scenes in an ongoing way anyway and can be called in to action whenever the need is there. " (EFRA Cttee evidence July 2002)
Where is DEFRA's own report on Hornbeam?
July 26 2005 ~ Anyone looking for Defra's report on Operation Hornbeam on the labyrinthine website will eventually find on the page entitled DEFRA PUBLISHES REPORT ON EXERCISE HORNBEAM a opeful looking link to the report on Operation Hornbeam. It leads to the index page for the Contingency Plan. So does the link for the Contingency Plan.(In fact, Defra's Report(new window) on Hornbeam was located and sent to us by tireless Bryn Wayt, who describes here how he got it....)
How much observing?DEFRA's report on Hornbeam published on 15 December 2004 says (p.85) that 80 observers attended the Hornbeam rehearsal. At least one tireless stakeholder requested permission to attend - but was denied access as it was "already full".
It would appear that most of those visitors had a one and a half hour lecture and guided tour. That was that.
The EU Observers were given a little more attention - including dinner with the CVO
2 - 7 February 2005 ~ More than 500 people involved in Hornbeam - but " the value of the Department’s exercise (Hornbeam) could have been increased by including a simulation at farm level"
NAO report page 21 "A major exercise, Exercise Hornbeam, was held in June 2004 which involved a Minister, senior officials, many staff from the Department’s headquarters and five animal health divisional offices across Britain, as well as other public bodies and stakeholders - altogether more than 500 people. A wide range of industry bodies were invited to attend as observers and their observations sought. Our consultees commented that the value of the Department’s exercise could have been increased by including a simulation at farm level, for example to test telecommunications in a remote area.
3.9 The Department’s own report on Exercise Hornbeam identified the need for further work. The main points related to:
- changes to roles, responsibilities and organisational structures at senior levels;
- the clarity and presentation of the contingency plan and instructions;
- the need to improve readiness by identifying in advance trigger points for policy decisions during an outbreak;
- improvements to communication systems and procedures; and
- better information collection, sharing and dissemination.
A revised contingency plan will be issued in summer 2005 incorporating the lessons learned from the Exercise."
January 16 - 22 2005 ~ "All exercises identify issues that need clarifying and addressing and Exercise Hornbeam was no exception.
The Government are not complacent and the exercise has helped to identify the areas where we need to focus efforts further to improve procedures and to fine tune policies and strategies for all stages of an outbreak.
Defra will be providing a detailed response to the Royal Society Infectious Diseases in Livestock Follow-Up Review later this month."
From the answer by Ben Bradshaw to David Drew's Parliamentary Question to Margaret Beckett about Exercise Hornbeam.
November 27 - Dec 3 2004 ~ Hornbeam: "Currently there is insufficient scientific evidence to be confident that vaccination will be an effective tool in controlling an outbreak."
This extraordinary sentence comes from the "Review of the Foot and Mouth Disease contingency plan, including Exercise Hornbeam: recommendations of the Science Advisory Council" (html page here)
The review and its recommendations, dated September 2 2004, has appeared on the DEFRA website. How long it has been there is not yet known. Two of the four SAC members concerned were Professor Roy Anderson and Professor Mark Woolhouse - and as perpetrators of the contiguous cull policy themselves, they were hardly likely to remind anyone that vaccination proved its worth in Uruguay at the very same time that healthy animals were being slaughtered in their millions in the UK. Even now (and after three laborious years of selfless work from so many in trying to reveal the truth of the disastrous errors made), their empty words about vaccination will carry weight.
The review says, "Many lessons have been learnt as a result of the 2001 FMD outbreak and it is clear that many have been incorporated into the plan." Read in full
November 27 - Dec 3 2004 ~ Where is the DEFRA report on Operation Hornbeam?
Defra website "Relevant recommendations will be taken into account in preparation of the Report on Exercise Hornbeam which the department plans to publish in October. ... "
Could any reader of this website direct us to the report? Our own page about Operation Hornbeam quotes Dr Iain Anderson's very relevant remarks to the EFRA Committee
"The one area which I believe needs to be emphasised again and again is that in order to get this right for the future .....it needs to be captured in processes which engages people from different agencies outside of the centre. These processes need to become part of routine ... ... it is regrettable that a formalised system of engaging well balanced and well trusted previously communicated scientific advice was not deployed from the very early days........"
June 29/30 2004. Warmwell reported...
July 3 - July 9 ~ What were and are the real reasons for not wanting to vaccinate?
DEFRA says "Vaccination would have been used if the Government’s Chief Scientific Adviser and Chief Veterinary Officer had advised that it was the most appropriate measure of disease control in the circumstances."
Yet the rapporteur of the EU Temporary Committee, Wolfgang Kreissl-Dörfler wrote in his report
31. In Cumbria, from the end of March/beginning of April 2001, vaccinating cattle was an option recommended by the Chief Scientific Adviser to the government and the Chief Veterinary Officer on condition that certain criteria were complied with, including that of support from farmers. The government did not consider this option practicable ..."
July 3 - July 9 ~ In March 2002, Nick Brown told the EU Committee "We were only 24 hours away from vaccinating"
"However representations made to me from large retailers and in particular Cadburys stating they would not take products from vaccinates persuaded us not to vaccinate."This was disputed by William Moyes director-general of the British Retail Consortium (BRC), when he spoke to the EU Committee in Strasbourg
"..at no time did retailers lobby for or against the vaccination of animals as an alternative to slaughter"As for the supposed opposition of Cumbrian farmers, the NFU's stance was not representative of livestock farmers on the ground in Cumbria. On 11 April, MP David Maclean polled his farmers by fax. Eighty per cent of the farmers and 95 per cent of the vets wanted 'vaccination to live' (i.e., without subsequent slaughter) as soon as possible. On 20 April the Cumberland News carried the headline 'Desperate Cumbria pleads with Blair to vaccinate now'.
July 3 - July 9 ~ The answer to the question "Why did the UK not vaccinate?" makes no more sense today than it did in 2001.
Wolfgang Kreissl-Dörfler said: "Relatively small special-interest groups (parts of the meat-producing farming sector and the food trade) seem to have had an undue influence over decisions affecting the wellbeing of whole regions in the management of the FMD outbreak in the UK in 2001.. .....This is all the more worrying because fears in the food trade that consumers would not accept products from vaccinated livestock were unsubstantiated."
July 3 - July 9 ~ "No supermarkets or trade federations in Uruguay tried to tell government that the public would not accept vaccinated meat
nor was there re-infection from "carrier" animals, or spread of the disease due to sheep with antibodies...." John Vidal in the Guardian May 8, 2002
July 3 - July 9 ~ In Uruguay, the farmers, safely and without stress, vaccinated their own cattle.
In Uruguay, the disease was eradicated in 15 weeks Meanwhile, in the UK, and in spite of the expensive and unpublicised "training" of lay vaccinators in preference to stockmen who knew their animals, the policy of vaccination was being abandoned.
" I was paid £600 to stand in a barn for 3 hours, learning how to inject a cow ...and pierce the ear with a tag. ... I was informed that I had passed the training and was now an 'official' being paid £40 a day to be on 'standby'. .. I have never worked with cows and have no idea how to control them - however this didn't seem to worry any officials. .."Read in full the account of one such trainee.
2004: "... we have put in place the operational capability to be ready to vaccinate 5 days into an outbreak" (DEFRA)
Was this operational capability evident during last week's Exercise Hornbeam? Did it include knowledge of how to handle the animals as well as how to stick needles in oranges?
July 3 - July 9 ~ Hornbeam is over. "We still want to know..."
The Hornbeam exercise of 29 and 30 June leaves questions unanswered. In the debate in April during which Ben Bradshaw congratulated himself upon the Government's "achievement" in eradicating FMD in 2001, John Whittingdale reminded the house:
"We still need a proper investigation of the efficacy of the contiguous cull policy, under which millions of uninfected animals were destroyed, and an answer to the question whether that cull was even necessary. We still want to know why a vaccination programme was not introduced at an early stage. ...."John Whittingdale (Maldon and East Chelmsford)See also comment taken from the respected ProMed website for July 2002
" testing should have been done last year during the epidemic and certainly against the modelers' demand for 3kms culling. There was sufficient field experience and GIS topographic and detailed agricultural data to put it in doubt and certainly to hard test. ... I have not seen one model tested retrospectively and critically against the reality in the field. ..."
July 3 - July 9 ~ Commercial and political interest and the reality of "testing" for disease
The claim made by DEFRA to the EU was that "Each of the 2,026 FMD cases was subjected to a detailed clinical and epidemiological investigation. ..." ( DEFRA's "Origin of the UK Foot and Mouth Disease epidemic in 2001" ) In their Jan 2002 submission to the EU for the resumption of Disease Free Status, http://www.defra.gov.uk/animalh/int-trde/misc/foot/OIE_FMD_report.pdf DEFRA appears to make the same claim - i.e. that it had tested all Infected Premises.
We know that many slaughtered premises were never tested in 2001. Farmers' requests for lab tests were very often curtly denied. Pirbright received samples from only a small fraction of slaughtered farms - probably less than 20% of all contiguous culls and even many IP's taken out on clinical grounds. More
July 3 - July 9 ~ Repeat offenders
Christopher Booker's Notebook in the Sunday Telegraph: "Radio 4's PM programme last Tuesday reported on "Operation Hornbeam"......
.....According to the Defra simulation, PM reported, we were in "Day Seven" of an epidemic that had already spread to four different parts of the UK. But there had only been 11 separate "incidents" (in 2001 the disease had established itself in 57 places before it was identified). And so far Defra was considering a limited vaccination programme, confined to cattle in just two of the areas affected. Meanwhile we heard Defra proudly announcing that 17,400 animals had already been slaughtered.
In other words, there was abundant evidence that Defra has not begun to get the point. Its officials have "learned nothing and forgotten nothing". If foot and mouth strikes again, we can look forward to a repeat of the chaos we saw in 2001. All this, of course, passed the BBC by." Read in full
July 3 - July 9 ~ DEFRA's work on FMD defended.
One FMD stakeholder has defended DEFRA, informing us that the Ministry has
We feel this does indeed merit our acknowledgement. We are therefore grateful to those members of DEFRA who are trying to effect improvements in the UK handling of disease in the spirit of the Directive:
- agreed to immediate Movement shutdown,
- improved communications internally, across Government and with the Military,
- instituted more transparent procedures with greater Stakeholder involvement.
- Established 50 vaccination teams plus 100 more on quick call-off
- has apparently carried out about 30 Contingency Plan rehearsals culminating in Operation Hornbeam.
- Agreed to melt down [an unspecified quantity -about £150,000 worth was once mentioned ] of antigen as soon as serotyping is completed
"....its policies to combat animal diseases must not be based purely on commercial interests but must also take genuine account of ethical principles." EU Directive
July 3 - July 9 ~ "All groups need to be aware now of the Government’s operational arrangements.."
See "Foot-and-Mouth Disease Control Policy Communications Strategy", Prepared by Communications Directorate/ AMED Policy Team)
"... It is crucial that stakeholders are engaged in planning for possible use of emergency vaccination in a future outbreak; in particular that:Read FMD Control Policy Communications Strategy in full. It would be interestng to know, in view of the farmer's comments below, how far the "Communications Directorate" feel they were successful in achieving their aims.
- farmers are aware of the implications for trade and their representatives are willing to give re-assurance on this;
- consumer bodies are aware of the safety of products from vaccinated animals, declare themselves willing to be supportive, and are in a position to allay potential public concern ;
- welfare groups are willing to endorse emergency vaccination;
- the various components of the food chain are aware of the safety of products from vaccinated animals and are confident there will be no adverse public reaction, in particular that caused by negative public statements from the above groups....
.... All groups need to be aware now of the Government’s operational arrangements for emergency vaccination and how the decision to vaccinate would be handled so that confidence can be gained about its use.."
June 26 - July 2 ~ So were any animals vaccinated? Any at all? Apparently not - for all we can read in media reports.
Under the title "Hornbeam me up, Scotty " we receive the following: "Farmers Weekly, page 7 reads,
As we have tried to point out on warmwell, the food industry was NOT concerned about the use of meat from vaccinated animals even in 2001, and certainly isn't now - but confusion still reigns about this in the minds of those who oppose vaccination now because they did then because of all those who continue loftily to tell them it is not a "magic bullet" (It was in Uruguay).
" On the morning of day eight DEFRA decided to vaccinate dairy animals in North Wales and Cheshire, but was told then that industry stakeholders would oppose this policy in Cheshire, adding further complications""What a bloody uphill struggle this is! Surely the role of the Communications Directorate should have been to have assuaged those concerns in the first place? (It's not as if they weren't forewarned). Reading comments such as from Lewis MBE on how 'culling is the best policy' just makes me feel we have reached the end of the line.
These people are never going to change, nor relinquish control.
... I am not sure that I want to continue trying to pursue a career in agriculture in this country (hard enough anyway) with this sword hanging over my head at all times. I dread the day FMD returns as some lessons from 2001 do not seem to have been learned at all."
June 26 - July 2 ~ Contingency plans " would prove “useless” if there was interference from Defra bosses nationally...
Cumbria News and Star "... Tim Bennett, newly-elected president of the NFU, said many animals should be vaccinated because mass culling was bad economically and bad for the country’s image."
"... Nick Utting, NFU secretary in North Cumbria, said this week he was confident that the county had put a lot of work into preparing contingency plans to tackle any new outbreak. But he warned these would prove “useless” if there was interference from Defra bosses nationally.
...Cumbria NFU county chairman and farmer, Alistair Mackintosh, said he could not envisage Defra handing over total control to regional offices if there was a future outbreak of foot and mouth. “But what they must do is bow to local knowledge,” he said.
....During the 2001 outbreak...the then county NFU chairman, Will Cockbain broke ranks with the union and said he could not back the mass culling of animals if there was another outbreak and that emergency vaccination should be used ......"
June 26 - July 2 ~ "For all the Commission’s huffing and puffing, Defra, it appears, has not heard or learned a thing."
Private Eye this week: Muckspreader "Under the codename ‘Operation Hornbeam’, Defra recently staged a exercise to test its ‘contingency plan’ for any future outbreak of foot and mouth disease. Presided over by ‘Baby Ben’ Bradshaw, this bizarre charade inevitably revived memories of the FMD fiasco in 2001, one of the worst governmental failures of modern times. One recalls the illegal slaughter of 9 million healthy animals, the failure to vaccinate, the obscene funeral pyres, the closure of the countryside, the devastation of the rural economy. On the most conservative estimate, this all cost £8 billion, paid for by taxpayers, farmers, rural businesses and the tourist industry...."
June 26 - July 2 ~ Were any animals given emergency vaccination in the "Hornbeam" simulation?
The press reports we have seen imply that vaccination was not used in the mock exercise. Those of us who have spent the past three years monitoring the situation are deeply concerned that DEFRA has taken Article 8 of the Directive to give carte blanche for slaughter instead of, (as it does) spelling out the special and limited conditions in which slaughter may be used.
In letters both to the EU and to DEFRA, Anne Lambourn writes:
Lambourn: The EU Directive (Article 8) permits killing of stock that have been contaminated, but it in no way authorises the firebreak culling of healthy animals "to get ahead of the disease" as in the Animal Health Act.DEFRA's reply:
"You state that provisions for a ‘firebreak’ cull are not included in the new FMD Directive. Article 8 of the FMD Directive does, in fact, make provision for "preventative killing of animals of susceptible species", which would include pre-emptive or ‘firebreak’ culling."However, this is to ignore the actual wording of the Article. See below. "it is NOT acceptable to slaughter animals unless epidemiological information or other evidence indicates that the animals concerned are infected or likely to have been. And before any killing does take place, the " competent authority shall notify the Commission".
Were media invitees told this during Exercise Hornbeam? Did the exercise include testing and a mock-up of the communications to the EU required? Bryn Wayt has further questions to ask - and we await an " open and transparent" report of the exercise that will give answers to such queries.
June 26 - July 2 ~ "Too much importance was attached to the trade-policy aspects, with the result that protective vaccination was not carried out even when it had been authorised."
"The action taken to control the foot-and-mouth diesease epidemics which struck certain Member States in 2001 has shown that international and Community rules and the ensuing practices have not taken sufficient account of the possibility offered by the use of emergency vaccination and subsequent tests to detect infected animals in a vaccinated population. Too much importance was attached to the trade-policy aspects, with the result that protective vaccination was not carried out even when it had been authorised......
The competent authority shall, immediately upon confirmation of the first outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease prepare all arrangements necessary for emergency vaccination in an area of at least the size of the surveillance zone established in accordance with Article 21." The EU FMD Directive (See here in html version or pdf version) that came into force throughout the EU yesterday.
Yet the media have been told that firebreak culling is still on the agenda. See below
June 26 - July 2 ~ We chose the words suggesting vaccination as a tool of first resort with care, using the same phrase as in the Royal Society's report into foot and mouth
The government's present stance on vaccination, reported by the media following Exercise Hornbeam, reminds us of Labour's proposals to weaken the EU FMD Directive by making vaccination simply "an option to consider" in 2002. These proposals were rejected by MEPs. As Caroline Lucas, vice-president of the inquiry committee, said in November 2002
"socialist MEPs had been pressurising "the committee to adopt compromise amendment 10, which calls for slaughter of animals to be given consideration on a par with vaccination in future outbreaks. That to many of us is a make or break amendment. It would be devastating if it went through and would completely emasculate the report.Neil Parish, Conservative MEP and agriculture spokesman in the European Parliament, said the report findings were surprisingly strong.
We chose the words suggesting vaccination as a tool of first resort with care, using the same phrase as in the Royal Society's report into foot and mouth. To change this completely undermines all our recommendations and makes it incoherent as it will not fit into the logical argument of the report."
"The author of the report, Wolfgang Kreissl-Dorfler, is a German socialist and it was known that Labour sent Lord Whitty over to try to make him put in the report what the British Government wanted. It is an absolute condemnation on the handling of the foot and mouth crisis by the Government. Knowstone was probably the first time the MEPs really saw the human suffering which took place during the crisis. This has had a big influence over the report so far."(Knowstone transcripts)
June 26 - July 2 ~ " Vaccination would be used as a last resort. Slaughter is still the best solution," .
From the report in icBirmingham This is the view of a Staffordshire hotel-owner and farmer, John Lewis, quoted in the paper.
It is not the view of the The Royal Society inquiry, under the chairmanship of Professor Sir Brian Follett. The RS Society said " Given recent advances in vaccine science and improved trading regulations, emergency vaccination should now be considered as part of the control strategy from the start of any outbreak of FMD. By this we mean vaccination-to-live."
Nor is Mr Lewis' view that of the Royal Society of Edinburgh Inquiry into Foot and Mouth Disease, whose vice-chairman wrote a letter in Scotland on Sunday, 18 August 2002 which concluded: "Having examined all the issues, we recommended that for the future emergency vaccination should be a tool of first rather than last resort, with the vaccinated animals allowed to live and subsequently go into the food chain..."
June 26 - July 2 ~"Mr Bradshaw's comments caused dismay yesterday amongst those who lived through the 2001 crisis"..."It makes you wonder whether they have learnt anything at all....".
Ben Bradshaw: "We hope to avoid contiguous culling, but we have not ruled it out. "..... Mr Bradshaw said vaccination was "a very useful tool". But he said it would only be used as an alternative to culling in certain circumstances."WMN"....During the foot and mouth crisis, proposals to use vaccination to contain the epidemic - a measure used successfully in the Netherlands were ruled out by the Government over fears it would hit the meat and dairy export trade, worth £500 million. As the contiguous cull spread, the total cost of the crisis went on to top £8 billion.
Mr Bradshaw's comments caused dismay yesterday amongst those who lived through the 2001 crisis.
Mr Gibson....: "It would be very unpopular as it was last time, because it involves the culling of thousands of healthy animals."
David Hill, who served as the NFU's Devon chairman in 2001, said the notion of contiguous culling was "ludicrous" because it took no account of the situation on individual farms. "Any culling should be based on the likelihood that an animal has come into contact with the disease. It makes you wonder whether they have learnt anything at all."
Janet Bayley, of the National Foot and Mouth Group, said it would be "extremely worrying" if the Government moved culling back up the agenda. She said European policy now placed vaccination at the forefront of the control strategy.
........ Mr Bradshaw said he hoped the exercise would demonstrate that the Government had "learned the lessons of some of the mistakes made then". See also Inbox comment
June 26 - July 2 ~ Evening of Day 6 - Exercise Hornbeam - 17,400 animals dead
Farmers Weekly interactive ".... At a briefing on Tuesday, DEFRA said by that point in the outbreak it had "slaughtered" 17,400 animals which would be disposed of via rendering or incineration...."
And did DEFRA also say that - in the simulation - it had simulated the taking of samples and carried out clinical examinations of animals of susceptible species "at least in accordance with point 220.127.116.11 of Annex III"? Was the properly qualified Expert Group involved in the simulation? Had it gone through the motions of notifying the Commission "prior to the implementation of the measures provided for in this Article." ie slaughtering those 17,400 animals?
(See below) and Article 8 of the Council Directive which comes into force throughout Europe today, Wednesday.
June 26 - July 2 ~ "the slaughter of animals on infected premises and those suspected of harbouring foot-and-mouth will remain the first options, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said."
It sounds as though the media have been told that firebreak culling is still on the agenda. Although amendments to the 1981 Animal Health Act were rushed through parliament in 2002 to give retrospective legality to the killing of healthy animals, the terms of the EU Directive (See here in html version or pdf version) that comes into force today has this to say in Article 8
In other words, under the provisions of the now EU wide FMD Directive, it is NOT acceptable to slaughter animals unless epidemiological information or other evidence indicates that the animals concerned are infected or likely to have been. And before any killing does take place, the " competent authority shall notify the Commission".
Preventive eradication programme1. The competent authority may, where epidemiological information or other evidence indicates, implement a preventive eradication programme, including preventive killing of animals of susceptible species likely to be contaminated and, if necessary, of animals from epidemiologically-linked production units or adjoining holdings.
2. In that event, the taking of samples and clinical examinations of animals of susceptible species shall be carried out at least in accordance with point 18.104.22.168 of Annex III.
3. The competent authority shall notify the Commission prior to the implementation of the measures provided for in this Article.
Were media invitees told this during Exercise Hornbeam?
June 26 - July 2 ~ DEFRA would not allow the conversation to be filmed.
Didi Phillips writes to tell us that an apology has been received for 2001. " Nick has just returned from the DEFRA AH Office in Truro, Cornwall, where he was asked by the BBC to comment on "Operation Hornbeam." ..... did manage to get past Mr Anderson's minder... to talk to him, although DEFRA would not allow the conversation to be filmed.
Nick asked him why MAFF's FMD policy to control an animal health disease had resulted in the deaths of sixty farmers. Mr Anderson was totally taken aback by the question, but he apologised and said he was deeply sorry for the way in which we were treated during the FMD outbreak.
If anyone else would like to write or email him, maybe they too can elicit an apology from a senior vet ..." Read in full
June 26 - July 2 ~ Bovine TB "... 6 weeks down the road from our last 60 day test, we still have had no notification of the result"
An emailer writes, "... Alick Simmons was on Radio 4 this morning, saying that more than 4000 herds were overdue for their Tb tests.
Whose fault is that?
LVI vets get a list every month from Defra and if you aren't on it, then they can't test - or rather they can but YOU pay, not Defra!
Only when Defra give the vet instructions to test, will he get paid.
It's totally in Defra's hands, and their hands are very busy. Even more so this week with a pseudo FMD outbreak. Probably explains why, 6 weeks down the road from our last 60 day test, we still have had no notification of the result! (We have isolated the 1 slight inconclusive - but off our own and our vet's initiative)
June 26 - July 2 ~ the number of herds logged on the Defra website does not tally with BCMS 'active' holdings.
Vetnet (Defra) is showing around 96,000 herds registered as having cattle, but BCMS say that in 2003, only 81,000 holdings registered an 'event'. That is a birth, death or movement on/off. Could many of the 'overdue' TB tests be for holdings who have no cattle?
June 26 - July 2 ~ Hornbeam begins
As DEFRA puts it, "a role-playing exercise to test Government's responses to a foot and mouth outbreak" On June 30 the EU Directive (See here in html version or pdf version) comes into force throughout the EU. DEFRA has chosen to concentrate on days seven and eight of an FMD outbreak. DEFRA's contingency plan does not allow for the immediate ring vaccination of the area from "Day 1" when an outbreak is reported. DEFRA has informed the press that the exercise has been developed by the SVS.
It would be reassuring to think that members of the press who accept DEFRA's invitation to attend the Exercise are to be briefed clearly and correctly on all the issues surrounding vaccination - and that they ask pertinent questions about why it was not used in 2001: why it is not to be used as a matter of course but rather "considered" and for exactly what economic or political reasons it may be rejected yet again in the future when the technology- both rapid diagnosis and vaccination fit for any of the seven strains of the virus - exists to stop an outbreak in its tracks without any need for extended slaughter.