We begin with an interesting message forwarded from Betty in Holland:
I came over the following article published in the Newcastle Journal.
Could please one of the scientists enlighten me : Why should a test
(Elisa?) ,I suppose, work on cattle and sheep, but not on deer ? If
they are infected by the same FMD-strain and showing antibodies, what's the
difference? Or could they just act as carriers without producing antibodies (or only
very lo w levels?) like i.e. some cattle infected with BVD/MD?
FMD Spread By Wild Deer Aug 30 2001
Foot-and-mouth disease is being spread by wild deer but the Government
won't admit it for fear of plunging Britain into an agricultural Dark Ages, a
scientist has warned. Dr Richard North warned that millions of unaffected
cattle and sheep could be under threat from a new foot-and-mouth
explosion. The Bradford-based agronomist, who works for an EU think-tank
on farming matters, says it is extremely likely the disease is pervasive in
the countryside and being spread by wild deer. That, he claims, is one
explanation for the latest outbreak in South West Northumberland but officials from
Defra, on advice from the Chief Veterinary Officer, have categorically
denied that the animals are carrying the virus and spreading it. They have
branded claims they are hiding from the truth as 'nonsense'.A Defra spokesman
"There have been a considerable number of deer tested for foot-and-mouth
and all have had negative results."As officials battled to stem the outbreak
in Allendale, Dr North said the country is staring at a crisis of epic
proportions if deer are found to be infected .He said: "There is no
dedicated test for FMD in deer and Defra has been using a sheep or cattle test on
deer, which, not surprisingly, shows up negative."Dr North added: "It presents
a major political threat that if disease is found in deer, there will be
absolutely no chance of Britain being given back export status unless
there was then clear evidence that the deer population was free of
foot-and-mouth."The technical difficulty then is carrying out large scale
deer culls, which itself creates an almost impossible situation."A
spokesman for Defra in London said no evidence had been found that wild deer were
carrying the disease, following investigations by veterinary
scientists."It is difficult for deer to contract foot-and-mouth and they are not good
carriers as a species. It is the advice of the Chief Veterinary Officer, that
deer are not responsible for the sporadic cases.."The two ways in which
the disease could be spreading is either through animal movements or
movements of people and machines."The two possibilities we're investigating near
Hexham are that the disease has been held latent in flocks there, or that it has
been through movements of people and lax biosecurity."He added: "We can
categorically state that there is no risk from deer, and it is nonsense
to suggest we are going to cheat our way back to disease-free
status."Margaret Stonehouse, whose farm at Allendale is one of the infected premises in
thecurrent outbreak, said: "There are deer everywhere around here, they
travel large distances and come right across the fells."A deer can carry
infection. It's a political hot potato, though, because people don't want to see
wild animals culled, particularly not when they are considered fluffy, like
------ Einde van doorgestuurd bericht -----
Richard made this comment:
I notice that Blair's government has announced an 'independent inquiry' into
the activites of the insurance company Equitable Life. Funny how a private
sector company is suitable for this treatment, while the FMD debacle is
Jon sent us this disturbing message:
Foot and Mouth...
3 new cases in Hexham, NOrthumberland today (cases attached).
8 cases away from 2000.
Defra continue to chase animals around with quad bikes taking pot shots,
still 'vaccination on the agenda', still talk of 'sparks on the tail end of
the crisis', autumn welfare issues now urgent and finally a change in the
law at the beginning of July to now ban the use of pithing in
slaughterhouses. This now means that up to 10% of animals witness the full
slaughter process fully conscious (SVC research), just becuase there might
be the slightest risk of BSE material getting into the bloodstream.
You can judge a society by the way it treats its' animals.
From the Warmwell website:
Aug 31 ~ Cheering moment on Farming Today.
an emailer comments: " What was, perhaps, most illuminating about this
programme was the, ahem, "change of emphasis" from the NFU. Now they are
happy to go with the flow ; wasn't it Ben Gill himself who said (even
recently) that vaccination was pointless because it would still have to end
in a cull? ..??? Absolutely no mention of that at 5.45 this morning, but
some mumble about consumers not wanting it - honestly! I think it was Miriam
O'Reilly in the chair this morning - whoever it was took no prisoners alive!
the best thing DEFRA could do was to mumble on about "scientific advice" -
presumably the same sort of advice that predicted an end to the malaise by
early June 2001."
Our comment: We listened in this evening via the following link:
The following report was outlined in the above Farming Today programme:
The rationale for using emergency vaccination for foot and mouth disease
Report of the
Scientific Committee on Animal Health and Animal Welfare
Adopted 10 March 1999
This report is available on
The rationale for using emergency vaccination for foot and mouth disease is:
1. Fear that after the introduction of FMDV into a free region, it may
spread out of control;
In particular, outbreaks in areas containing high densities of susceptible
Animals and inadequate resources of manpower or rendering plants for the slaughter
anddisposal of animals or outbreaks involving a predicted risk of airborne
virus spread beyond the protection 2 zone;
2. Availability of high potency vaccines.
It has been demonstrated (Salt et al., 1994 and 1996) that a high level ofimmunity can be induced by potent vaccines within a few days in both cattle
And pigs. These experimental data were confirmed on several occasions under
3. Availability of new tests that will differentiate between infected and
The availability of these tests allows the vaccine to be used in a similar
fashion to a marker vaccine.
(Note: Differentiation of infection from vaccination by detecting antibodies
to NSP in infected ruminants has been described (Bergmann et al., 1989; De
Diego et al. 1997; Haas 1997; Meyer et al. 1997; Silberstein et al. 1997;
Sorensen et al. 1998b; Mackay et al. 1998a). To date, the detection by ELISA
of an antibody response to the non-structural polyprotein 3ABC seems to be
the most reliable indicator of a previous infection (Concerted action CT93
0909,1997). NSP ELISAs are simple to perform and are suited to large scale
application by a routine serological laboratory. To date (i.e.1999) this
test has been validated in cattle (refs. cited above). There is good data
available for sheep but further work needs to be done in pigs.)
2 The protection zone is a zone defined by the competent authority with a
minimum radius of 3km around the infected holding, itself contained in a surveillance zone of minimum radius 10km. Zones should take account of geographical, administrative, ecological and epizootiological factors e.g.
Council Directive 92/119/EC.
4. Responding to public opposition to the implementation of total stamping
out and the demand for an alternative approach or the impossibility of carcass
disposal because of concerns about water (carcass burial) or urban air pollution by
smoke of carcass burning.
5. The successful implementation of emergency vaccination will limit the
number of animals experiencing the symptoms and poor welfare associated with FMD
"This report of the Scientific Committee on Animal Health and Animal Welfare
is substantially based on the work of a working group of the Committee.
The working group was chaired by Prof. G. Panina. The members of the group
were as follows; Prof. G. Panina, Dr. R. Ahl, Dr. M. Amadori, Dr. S.
Barteling, Dr. K. DeClercq, Dr. A.I. Donaldson, Dr. P. Have, Dr. S.
Our comment: Just to re-emphasise what has been said so many times before -
this report to the EU from its own expert veterinary committee recommends
that emergency vaccination is the most appropriate strategy to employ
against FMD in certain circumstances that exactly match the present UK
outbreak. SO WHY DON'T WE VACCINATE? The answer clearly drawn by the
Farming Today programme is - the NFU, and only the NFU - just in case you
Aug 30 ~ Following Channel 4 news on Wednesday, Dot was aghast
" I have NEVER been so angry; some vet called Tyson is definitely living on
borrowed time." and went on to explain,"What made it so awful was that it
started off as such a great news piece, with the call for vaccination from
two farmers and the Countryside agency. One local vet offering to vaccinate
the whole of the Allendale area himself to avoid using dirty vets, saying
that within a year the vaccine would have worked itself out of their systems
and our F&M free status would be restored. I was feeling that at last we
were getting somewhere, standing in front of the Tele shouting YES !! Then,
they interviewed Tyson , and he trotted out how we are winning the battle ,
everything is going well, all under control no point in vaccinating as we
would HAVE TO KILL all the animals afterwards. I can't bear it, he got the
last word, and none queried this stupid statement....." Val comments," Tyson
also explained that the nasty scenes of killing - in front of tourists etc -
had stopped and that the area was 'normal' except he said for the lorries,
police and bio-security units. Would suggest that we contact the BVA - who
after all are only the 'trade union' for the RCVS ."
From the BBC Devon website:
Sheep on a farm near Tiverton have been culled after tests showed they were
carrying foot-and-mouth antibodies.
The presence of antibodies meant the disease HAD BEEN present on the farm -
but there were no signs of the live virus.
Animals have tested positive for foot-and-mouth antibodies on at least two
previous occasions in Devon in the past few weeks - but in both cases no
active disease has since been found.
The Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is carrying out
blood testing on sheep within a ten kilometre radius of previous outbreak
sites as part of the process to determine whether Devon is free of foot-and-
The National Farmers Union in the South West has said the discovery of
antibodies is not unexpected and there is no cause for concern.
Due to the high level of infection that occurred in Devon at the height of
the disease, there remains some doubt as to whether the county will be given
foot-and-mouth free status even when the blood testing has been completed.
DEFRA has told the NFU that it is possible that further blood testing of a
wider range flocks will be required in order to demonstrate that there are
no undiscovered reservoirs of disease.
Our comment: Well this is really something - the BBC have actually grasped
the difference between antibodies and live disease! Unfortunately they have
yet to question why antibodies lead to slaughter when there is no risk of
The last two sentences illustrate the concerns that some have (including us)
over the basis upon which this blood testing is being carried out. There
appears to be no specific EU or UK legal requirement for it and the
scientific rationale is deeply flawed. No-one yet knows whether the
hallowed "disease-free" status will follow from the blood testing regime now
under way. And for any livestock owner unfortunate enough to have
antibodies confirmed in his sheep, it's an automatic slaughter sentence- but
for what purpose?
That's one reason why we think co-operation with this dubious procedure
should be refused. There's no possible benefit to smallholders - only the
risk of pointless loss.
From the Farmers Weekly website:
31 August 2001
Foot-and-mouth controls extended
By FWi staff
FOOT-AND-MOUTH controls are being extended after the disease jumped beyond a
400-square mile restriction zone in northern England.
Three new foot-and-mouth outbreaks were confirmed in Northumberland on
Friday (31 Aug), taking the number of cases to 16 within eight days.
At least two of the cases are believed to be outside a 400-square mile
biosecurity zone which had been set up in a bid to stop the disease.
Outbreaks were confirmed at Low Eshells, Hexham; Greyside, Fourstones,
Hexham; and Ellrington Hall, Haydon Bridge, on Friday (31 August).
Slaughter teams were moving in to cull 874 cattle and 2457 sheep on the
infected holdings. Livestock on nearby holdings will also be killed.
Divisional Veterinary Manager Arthur Griffiths has asked for help from the
Army in view of the number of animals which need to be culled.
"This is extremely disappointing news which will mean a considerable
extension of the infected area and the blue box restrictions," he said.
The onset of autumn will increase the risk of the disease spreading because
foot-and-mouth is more difficult to control in colder weather.
31 August 2001
Ministers to consider vaccination
By FWi staff
MINISTERS will consider vaccinating livestock if attempts fail to halt the
spread of foot-and-mouth disease before the autumn, claim reports.
A senior Whitehall official has told the Financial Times that if the
slaughter policy fails "we have to consider vaccination again very
The admission follows calls from the chairman of the Countryside Agency,
Ewen Cameron, to reconsider vaccination at least on an experimental basis.
The government insider is reported by the FT as saying that in a future
epidemic a slaughter policy might not be implemented.
"I don't think the public will countenance another war being fought on the
same basis, he said.
"I think there will be very big questions about public acceptability of a
slaughter policy in future outbreaks."
The Guardian also re-examines the issue of vaccination, claiming in its
comment section, that F&M culls are dividing rural society.
The paper says scientific advisers may be divided over vaccination, but
farmers are no longer totally opposed.
"Government officials described the vaccination option as "still open" bit
it must be more than just open.
"There need to be detailed plan, which could be put quickly into effect in
the event of a further serious outbreak like Allendale."
The Daily Telegraph reports that a vet who serves the area between two "Blue
Boxes" of Allendale and south Cumbria is also asking ministers to vaccinate.
Jim Clapp said the Alston Moor region had been blood-tested clean and it
would only take about 30,000 doses of vaccine to cover all animals.
"The country is being held to ransom by the cull policy against the virus.
"Hasn't it been bad enough in Cumbria already? I want Alston Moor to be
Mr Clapp said farmers would comply so long as all animals were vaccinated,
they were not subsequently slaughtered and there was a market for their
Our comment: We liked the "IF the slaughter policy failed" bit in this
report - hasn't anyone noticed, then?
from Rosie and Alan (it's mostly Rosie's handiwork tonight!)