Tom starts off tonight's message with these thoughts:


I found the Times article of Sept. 14th to be very depressing reading as
many others must have done. A week or so back I felt that we were beginning
to win the argument for vaccination. It is time to accept that all along, it
was not about vaccination at all. FMD was a golden opportunity for the powers
that be to get rid of a lot of farmers and unwanted animals and reduce the
size of the farming industry in the UK. This was the hidden agenda all
along. Pardon the pun but the wool has been well and truly pulled over our
eyes. They are willing to kill every single animal in Cumbria if need be,
its the madman theory of war.

As the surgeon said: "The operation was a success but the patient died".
Talking about surgeons, a man woke up in hospital and was told there was
good news and bad news. The bad news was that the wrong leg had been
amputated. The good news was that the other one was getting better.

Excuse me while I find a wall to bang my head against.

Regards Tom
.


Diana E-mailed on local matters and finished off with this:


 One last thought is of the looming conflict over terrorism. I tried so
hard to believe in Tony Blair's sentiments, but I couldn't help the feeling
that this has come just at the right time to divert attention from FMD, and,
as another of the group suggested, to divert attention away from the
"terrorism" inflicted by our own government on us. I was sure I actually
heard him say, "We will defeat this disease". Unless anyone knows better  -
Diana.


*********************************************

We attended the Forum for FMD Control in Bristol and what follows is our own
record of the proceedings.

The audience numbered more than one hundred (our estimate) and comprised a
mix of vets, farmers and concerned members of the public.  The first speaker
was Ken Tyrrell, a senior vet in Cheshire during the last major outbreak in
1967.  As this current epidemic had unfolded, he declared himself
"infuriated, ashamed and horrified" by the government response to it.  The
lessons learned, and detailed by the Northumberland Report, had been
ignored.  He estimated that the impact of this epidemic could, and should,
have been reduced by 70 to 80%  if this report had been implemented.  He
highlighted especially the welfare issues caused by the refusal of movement
licenses for lambing ewes etc.  He believed that vaccination should have
been employed at around day 7 of the epidemic when its widespread nature
became clear.

Peter Poll followed with his personal account of experience in the 2001
Netherlands outbreak.  As a practising vet, he volunteered to work in the
diseased area but after 14 days became so sickened by it that he could not
carry on.  He stated his belief that the slaughter of vaccinated animals was
morally wrong and emphasised that the Dutch farmers had been misled;
originally the vaccination had been designated as "preventative" so that
livestock would live, but one week after the outbreak was over, they had
changed this to "suppressive" leading to slaughter.  Dr. Poll spoke
passionately against the morality of this policy and said that they (farmers
and vets) had tried all other methods to change the policy of their
government including debate, lobbying and protesting, but these had failed.
The only remaining option was for the vets themselves to refuse to enforce
such a policy i.e. to strike, and he has proposed such a motion to the Dutch
veterinary profession's organisation for debate and vote at the next full
meeting.  He explained that the non-vaccination policy had been introduced
in 1991 on the basis of several assumptions, all of which had turned out to
be seriously flawed; for example, that there would be one outbreak in ten
years, now looking questionable;  that 2 to 2.5 contact farms would be
slaughtered for each infected farm, now shown to be 100; and that the direct
cost of slaughter would be cheaper than vaccination, now shown to be wrong
(our notes have omitted the figures, but he gave them to show that this one
outbreak has cost considerably more than ten years of vaccination).  He
finished by calling on UK vets to join with them to force a change in
policy.

Fred Brown introduced himself by saying that he started work on the FMD
virus in 1955 at Pirbright.  He showed slides of the virus itself, outlined
its properties, and put forward his vision that the world could eradicate FMD
by a programme of vaccination, just as smallpox had been, with polio almost
there.  He said it was essential to diagnose FMD by laboratory test because
there were several other conditions with which the clinical signs could be
confused. In the USA, fear of bio terrorism had led to a development
programme for a portable specific testing device.  The result was the
machine that he displayed, developed to detect viral protein that was
specific to FMD in all seven strains.  A simple throat swab taken from
suspect livestock is processed close to the farm to provide a result in less
than two hours with very high sensitivity (only ten virions needed) - this
is much faster and more sensitive than existing tests needing a dedicated
laboratory facility.  Use of this machine would enable earlier detection of
disease to permit more effective control and to avoid slaughter of
uninfected animals.  He said that he would still use vaccination now in the
UK around the remaining hotspots to speed up and guarantee elimination of
disease.

Simon Barteling spoke on the "sticky" properties of the FMD virus due to the
protein structure, emphasising that it will cling to most surfaces.  He
attributed most spread to mechanical means in this way, by
animal/footwear/vehicle etc.  and said that the disease was unlikely to
spread across "barriers" such as canals, rivers, highways or railways.  He
detailed the advantages of a vaccination programme compared to slaughter,
summarised as:
# small number of trained staff  (2 to 4 per farm)
# rapid containment, working from the outside inwards
# cheap enough to implement much larger rings, so more effective
# rapid re-stocking of slaughtered (infected) farms with vaccinated stock
# no trauma for farmers
 # normal life resumes after two weeks
He went on to outline recent experiences in Bulgaria (94), Albania and
Macedonia (96), South Africa (2000) and the Netherlands (2001), in all cases
FMD had been eliminated by vaccination.  He pointed out that the EU had been
quick to encourage vaccination in those countries on its borders, and had
also supplied the vaccine.  In Holland, the vaccinates had been slaughtered
because FMD-free status requires livestock free of antibodies - but he
estimated that there were 20,000 old dairy cows still in Holland that had
been vaccinated before 1991, and in France perhaps 100,000, to emphasise the
double-standard here.  All vaccinates would shed the antibodies after twelve
months if allowed to live.
He moved on to "carrier" animals and stated there was not a single
documented case of a vaccinated animal creating new disease.  If there was
any risk at all from carrier vaccinates, it was as near-zero as possible.
In Uruguay, a country roughly the size of the UK, the cattle population of
10 million was vaccinated but not the 40 million sheep.  FMD was quickly
eliminated, showing that the disease was not self-sustaining in sheep.
Politically, in terms of trade, he believed that ring-vaccination should
have the same consequences as slaughter.

Paul Sutmoller outlined the development of the modern oil-based vaccines and
compared their improved performance to those previously available.  He
detailed the response in terms of antibody production in the major livestock
species.  There was excellent response in pigs, such that fattening pigs
were protected by a single dose for their short lives, and sows by an annual
dose.  He gave an example of  vaccinating 5000 pigs on a farm with endemic
disease to stop any further outbreak within five days.  By definition, some
of these pigs were incubating disease, but vaccination still worked.  Sheep
responded better than cattle, with higher antibody levels and better
resistance to FMD challenge.  Cattle over two years old require an annual
injection, younger stock twice yearly.
In the historical development of the new vaccines, an outbreak in Brazil in
1977 was significant.  In a field trial, 23 farms holding 36,000 cattle were
vaccinated in a ring around infected farms; none of these animals became
infected.  Farmers were impressed.  Up to this point, FMD control had used:
# vaccine of poor quality
# poor management
# low vaccination coverage of population (without farmer co-operation)
This maintained the status quo at best, and many of the current
misconceptions date from this earlier time.  Once farmers had seen the new
vaccines act effectively, they demanded their use and FMD morbidity in
cattle fell dramatically, e.g. from 19.9 per 10,000 head in 1981 down to
zero by 1995 (Argentina).  In Uruguay, a two-year vaccination programme (in
cattle only) eliminated FMD; vaccination ceased and there followed six years
without any disease.  The same pattern was repeated in Brazil and Argentina.
He conducted research that sought to prove transmission from carrier animals
to healthy ones.  An extensive series of elaborate experiments, far more
challenging than any farm situation, was unable to show that such
transmission occurred in cattle or sheep, while pigs do not become carriers.
He said, quote "All experimental evidence of FMD virus transmission by
carrier sheep is negative".  He went on to say that vaccinated carriers had
posed no problems during FMD eradication in South America.  Finally, he
pointed out that scientifically there was no risk of exporting FMD in
vaccinated meat, whereas FMD-free status meat carried the risk of undetected
disease.

There followed a lengthy question and discussion period.  The panel was
asked whether airborne spread took place; Fred Brown said no, it's a myth;
Simon Barteling said there were large differences between the strains.  The
panel was asked should vaccination be introduced in the UK even at this late
stage; all agreed that yes, it should be used.  There was much more that our
notes do not cover.

Afterwards, Alan approached Paul Sutmoller and asked him specifically about
FMD in sheep.  Paul confirmed that the disease is not self-sustaining in
sheep; that left alone, it will simply peter out; and that sheep carrying
antibodies present no risk of disease transmission to other livestock.  When
pressed on the terms used during this epidemic of "old disease" and "silent
shedders", he dismissed these as nonsense and repeated that there was no
risk from either carrier or recovered sheep.  There was no scientific reason
to slaughter such animals, only the "no antibody" rule for FMD-free status
When asked about the current UK epidemic, he said that his strategy would
have been to vaccinate only the cattle across the country.

ENDS


We may permit ourselves a personal comment on the above tomorrow!

******************************************************

From the Warmwell website:


 Marching orders Cumbrian farmers have a forceful new champion, reports
Jonny Beardsall
Telegraph
VISCOUNTESS LOWTHER - usually known as Lady Liz - thrusts unmanicured hands
deep into the pockets of her moleskins and flashes a broad Anneka Rice
smile. In her makeshift office, a dimly lit hidey-hole in her moody
farmhouse in Cumbria, ....... Liz's landowner husband is 52, with a crooked
nose - broken by an ex-wife and later by a mugger in Fort William. Although
the house here has only 45 acres with it, it is part of his 5,000-acre
Viscount Lowther estate that consists of 14 tenanted farms in the corner of
the county between the A6 and A66. On his father's death, another 20,000
acres will come his way but it won't change their address - they like it
here. Of these farms, only three have stock left - the rest have been
culled-out. "You'll see about a dozen sheep grazing by the A6 and that's
just about all between here and Penrith. Everything is gone, there's nothing
back down as far as Shap and Crosby Fell," says Hugh.
"In March, a neighbour's farm in nearby Great Strickland was confirmed with
the epidemic on a Friday and culled out on the Sunday. But carcasses were
left in the buildings for three weeks so the stink in the village was
horrendous. When they did burn them, a big plume of smoke billowed forth
infecting three more farms downwind in the process. This was so wrong."
They were angry. "Our tenants and neighbours were being bullied by the
ministry. They'd say 'we're going to take you out, if you don't let us on;
we'll take you out anyway and you won't get compensation.' They were very
heavy-handed. That upset us," says Liz, who, compelled to act, started the
Cumbrian Farmers Group, a support group run under the auspices of the
Countryside Alliance. "All tenants and neighbours joined. It gave them free
legal advice on how to deal with Defra and explained what their rights were
when facing the threat of a contiguous cull." A "contiguous cull" was when
disease-free stock was being culled within a 1.8-mile radius of an infected
farm.
"During general election fortnight, the impression given in the media was
that the killing had stopped when, in reality, it was going on after 8pm in
darkness up here," she says. "People in Sleagill - the nearest village -
could not sleep for the banging of humane killers and the roaring of cattle.
It was awful for the children to see dead cattle and sheep from the school
bus. To this day, children panic if they see bonfires - 'they're burning
animals,' they say."


Two months ago, the couple started their campaign. "It's Mr Blair we're
angry with," she says. "He took charge and announced an election when he had
no business to. That got our backs up. His Government's handling of the
crisis has been so bad. He knows nothing about the countryside nor gives a
hoot about rural areas. We say he must answer for this. . . We deserve this
inquiry and we need vaccination. If Cumbria and the rest of Britain is to
recover, we must vaccinate everything that's left now or we're finished."


Walking across the mown lawns bordered by two 20ft high pudding-shaped yews,
there are, miraculously, 95 hefted Swaledale ewes grazing in a field. They
have been here since November when they moved here for over-wintering. They
should have gone home in March but at least they are alive. Thanks to Liz
and Hugh's cussedness, they were saved from slaughter after the owners
successfully appealed to the ministry. ...............
You can support Lady Lowther's campaign for a public inquiry and for
vaccination by signing her petition and joining her march from Hyde Park to
10 Downing Street on October 20. For details call 01931 716921, or email
lizlowther@yahoo.co.uk Lady Lowther is also patron of The Heart of Britain
Groups, a countrywide network of co-operative groups supporting those who
live and work or have an interest in the countryside. For information, call
national coordinator, Jane Barriball (01361 850282; email
heartofbritain@aol.com). Sept 15

ENDS


Farms blockade . . .
Western Daily Press
by Chris Rundle WORRIED farmers have warned that draconian measures to stop
foot-and-mouth are wiping out more premises than the actual disease. That is
the verdict of West farmers' leader Anthony Gibson, who spoke as hundreds of
livestock farmers in Devon reeled in the face of new restrictions. Devon
farmers have seen their operations effectively paralysed by new restrictions
on animal movements designed to prevent another flare-up of the disease in
what is regarded as a potential flashpoint. The controls come into force on
Monday and could remain in place until the New Year. They will create huge
difficulties at a time of the year which normally sees big stock movements
between farms. But the regional NFU director says virtually the only
concession farmers have been able to wring out of DEFRA is agreement by the
department to pay for veterinary inspections necessary before sheep are
moved. He says that from a strict disease control point of view the new
restrictions are understandable. "But what is the point of having a policy
for eradicating the disease which wipes out half the farming community in
the process?" he said. "That is the course on which we appear to be
embarked. The treatment is rapidly becoming more deadly than the
disease."...... Sept 15

ENDS


Today's joke:    America has Bush, Bob Hope and Johnny Cash, Britain has
Blair, no cash and no hope.


from Alan & Rosie