http://www.rcvs.org.uk/fmd_info.html EXTRACTS

whatever strategy is adopted must command the support of farmers and their veterinary surgeons. Otherwise it will not work.

Would the use of vaccination have made any difference to the scale and/or duration of the outbreak, and its wider impact?

Routine vaccination was not allowed under EU rules. Vaccination could have been used with the permission of the Commission as a control measure during the outbreak, and we believe it would have made a significant difference....For the future, the EU should consider allowing animals vaccinated in order to control an outbreak to live instead of being killed later

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Animal welfare suffered as a result of poor supervision and management of slaughter teams

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In some areas the slaughter teams were not properly trained in appropriate animal handling, stunning and killing techniques for large-scale slaughter in the field, or properly equipped.

Cattle sedative injections were available at some centres and not others: sedated cattle allowed more accurate placement of captive bolt guns especially where stock were not used to being handled. Since the slaughter teams were paid piece rates they had an incentive to maximise the rate of killing.

There were reports that the contractual arrangements excluded a number of experienced slaughtermen, while less competent people were used.

Some TVIs were concerned at the lack of experience of some of the slaughter teams and their disregard for animal welfare at times.

It is essential that slaughter teams should be under veterinary oversight, and that the supervising veterinary surgeon should be sufficiently mature and experienced to exercise effective control. TVIs were not initially made aware that they were responsible for supervising slaughter or the health and safety of operatives; later MAFF tried to reduce the extent of veterinary supervision of slaughter teams to as little as one TVI per ten farms.

Protest by the TVIs and a rapid response from the RCVS resulted in a reversal of this policy change. Immediate euthanasia of diseased animals by veterinary surgeons could have eased some welfare problems and reduced the spread of infection, but not all TVIs were equipped for the purpose.

23. Animal welfare also suffered as a result of movement restrictions. There were severe problems in early April as a result of the confusion and delays in operating the various licensing schemes.

Animals were starving, ewes giving birth unaided and newborn lambs drowning in mud. Much of this could have been avoided if veterinary surgeons with practical experience on the ground had made an input into the design of movement schemes and LVI practices had been involved in issuing movement licences from the outset.

There were particular weaknesses in respect of feed supplies, where contingency plans should have identified central collection points, and movement of animals for slaughter for human consumption, where the "infected corridor" principle was not applied consistently.

24. Disposal of carcases on so large a scale was bound to be a problem, given that burial was not allowed in many areas.

The chosen strategy of controlling the outbreak by large-scale slaughter of animals which had not been exposed to infection did not take account of the limits on disposal capacity.

Contingency plans need to identify sites within the main livestock areas where disposal would be feasible and permitted, and carcases which are to be moved should not be allowed to decompose first.

Carcases of infected animals awaiting disposal may have transmitted infection, especially when scavenged by foxes and badgers. When carcases were moved for incineration or rendering the necessary standards of hygiene were not maintained.

Veterinary surgeons saw hair and other tissues being spread by pyres and leaky lorries transporting carcases, even being photographed with legs sticking out of the back. The Army should have been brought in more promptly to organise disposal. .