August 15 2007 ~ Warmwell Summary
We can piece together from Defra's epidemiological report dated August 9 (see also epidemiological report dated Aug 10 and that dated August 17:) and our own notes below, a brief summary of some of the important events up to that date.
There have been no other confirmed cases - but the "SOS" farm, Hunts Hill farm, had 362 mixed species free-range animals slaughtered "as a precaution" and the grief of Mr Emerson when he discovered that the suspect pig, and all the other animals, had been free of disease was very painful to witness. If an incubation period of 12 days is assumed and if the date of virus escape has been correctly estimated then any animals infected from the initial escape would develop clinical signs by 20th August. If there has been onward spread one can only hope that continuing surveillance will find it quickly.
- Commercial vaccine production using O1BFS1967 began at Merial in the week beginning 16 July. In addition to Merial, live virus at the IAH site had been used to provide reagents for diagnostic tests and disinfectant testing "on a continuous basis".
- It was on July 20th that "drains from the main sewer opened and flooded the field".
- At the first farm, Woolfords Farm in Elstead, foot and mouth lesions were dated (retrospectively) back to 26th July
- first clinical signs were noted 3 days later by the farmer and all animals killed by Aug 4th, seven days after clinical signs and one day after tests apparently showed 39 of the Woolfords cattle positive for active disease. P and S zones were put in place. .
- Although the 75 farms with approximately 750 cattle, 1,500 sheep and 200 pigs in the Protection Zone could, we are told, have all been vaccinated within 24 hours, it was decided that immediate vaccination within the zone to halt the spread of disease was not going to happen. Adequate reasons for this have not, we feel, been given - merely that the decision was, "In line with this decision tree and the emerging conclusions of epidemiology investigations". The science backing the UK policy should be clearly articulated. ( We refer readers to our current vaccination page in the hope that such a missed opportunity won't occur again. Mistaken ideas still abound as if they were fact. However, the real facts are that vaccination does not mask disease; uninfected animals, once vaccinated do not need to be subsequently slaughtered; vaccinated and infected animals can be distinguished on serology testing; authorities are still able to monitor the spread of disease when modern marker vaccines are used.. - in short, the objections to vaccination are economic ones - and it is the outmoded trade rules that should be challenged, not vaccination.).
- Visual surveillance of livestock and the blood testing of sheep within the protection zones began (clinical signs are difficult to spot in sheep).
- From the isolation of the strain, revealed by Pirbright, it emerged that the Pirbright site was itself the source of the virus and zones were adjusted accordingly.
- A routine protection zone surveillance visit (also carried out the day before) noticed first clinical signs on the second farm premises on August 6th, confirmed on the 7th.
- Lesions on the second site (beef suckler calves) were dated back to July 31st and all animals killed by the evening of the 7th August
UPDATE 13.20 World at One tells us that the initial test results are negative - but that more tests needed for a definitive result.
The delay in giving us information on the two suspect sites suggest that the official laboratory has not really got a grip on how to use the newer technology. As soon as the testing requirement goes up and results are needed quickly in order to reassure thousands of people, it does seem that they are finding it difficult to cope. Where does this delayed certainty leave the restrictions? When blanket restrictions are not warranted by any real disease risk in areas away from the focus of disease, local vets at least should be able to intervene to prevent unnecessary animal suffering. Up to date information should be on the DEFRA site as soon as possible and not be treated as sometimes seems the case, as if it were in some way "classified". As Michael Greaves says below, DEFRA seems to be behaving as if we were at war.
UPDATE 13.40 Vaccination Teams to be stood downDEFRA news release "..... Based on the overall risk assessment, including the findings of the Epidemiology Report, and provided initial negative tests from the TCZs are confirmed and there is no change in the disease situation, the Chief Veterinary Officer will stand down vaccination teams from their current level of alert. Teams could be stood up again in five days, if needed..."
An updated . Summary Epidemiology Report gives the Situation up to 16:00 Monday 13th August. Day 10 of the outbreak.
Finally ..... news came through this evening (Wednesday Aug 15) that the two new Foot and Mouth temporary control zones in Kent and Surrey had been lifted "based on further negative laboratory results for Foot and Mouth Disease"
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