This epidemic was littered with false diagnoses.Dr Paul Kitching told me that it was not possible to rely on visual i.e. clinical, diagnosis in sheep. His lifetime of worldwide experience had shown him that there were too many other ailments that produced identical symptoms. Other people think it is difficult - no-one who knows anything about FMD says that it is easy.
We imported vets who had no experience at all, and newly qualified vets without the personal confidence to question anything they were told.
Immediately next door to the Royal Welsh Showground is a classic case. A young vet was bullied by Page Street into stating for certain that the stock were not infected or killing them. He was very unsure and was sobbing in the farm kitchen. Experience would have told him that the cattle showed nothing and, whilst they were well into lambing, there were no fatalities - the laboratory results came back negative.
Another celebrated case was at Buttington where they dug up the sheep carcasses as shown on T.V. The sheep were on top of the hill and were brought down past a Dairy farm to buildings to make it easier to deal with the killing. MAFF then decided that, as they had got close to the dairy herd (their fault)then the 200 pedigree Holsteins would have to be killed. The dairy farmer resisted with legal support and, after 21 days, MAFF gave up. The catlle did not get it because the sheep never had it - another negative result. However it did not stop a senior MAFF official from brow beating an 80 year old into giving up his little flock weeks later.
Well over half the Welsh cases were falsely diagnosed. The 75000 blood tests required to lift "D" notices in the 3k radii did not find any positives. Not surprising when the mass of the core cases were wrongly diagnosed anyway.
MAFF overloaded itself with unnecessary killing and then did not do the job that they were supposed to be doing properly. They paid no regard for commonsense and hounded so-called contiguous farms to give up their stock weeks after any threat of infection had long gone.
INCOMPETENCE IS AN UNDERSTATEMENT.