We begin tonight with a report of the Bristol Forum from the Chairman, Bill
FORUM FOR FMD CONTROL
The University of Bristol, School of Chemistry
Saturday, 15th September 2001 2-6.00pm
With no end to the epidemic in sight, the Forum For FMD Control was
conceived by veterinary surgeon Wendy Vere, organized by Alicia Eykyn and
sponsored by Compassion in World Farming Trust.
A Welcome from Wendy Vere, MRCVS
It is wonderful to see everyone here in Bristol to debate the ongoing
epidemic of Foot and Mouth Disease and its future control. I am just an
ordinary general practitioner and dairy farmer with a mixed practice in
Devon, but when the virus arrived in the midst of my clients on March 9th my
life changed forever.
This forum is not to apportion blame or direct recriminations - rather it is
to debate the future - but I never want to see the horror, chaos and
misinformation that has been inflicted on my quiet rural practice ever
happen again. It is not the virus per se that has so traumatised the heart
of Britain so dreadfully but the Government's response to the virus. It is
vital that all inquiries into this terrible disease address the very real
problems of lack of contingency planning and the absence of veterinary
resources in place to deal with a major disease outbreak.
As a vet on the ground watching the slaughter there seemed to be so many
questions about the control method:
Why weren't sheep being serologically tested?
Why weren't local vets being used to assess local risk?
Why weren't they being used to prioritise welfare cases?
Why was the delay between diagnosis, slaughter and disposal stretching into
Why were contiguous premises being killed out long after the incubation
period had passed?
These questions and many others I asked repeatedly of the local MAFF office
to no avail; finally I sent them as a letter to Page Street in mid April.
I received a partial reply to them - on the 24th August. This is one of the
reasons why I wanted to have this meeting today - to engender the spirit of
communication. Communication between MAFF/DEFRA, vets and farmers has been
excruciatingly slow or non-existent. Does vaccination work in controlling
FMD? How does it work? No one will answer me in Page Street or Pirbright.
So, then, I think we need to find out the answers for ourselves so that we
can make educated, scientific, informed choices about animal health and
welfare. As a veterinary surgeon I know that vaccination is a highly
effective method of control for a myriad of diseases - routine vaccination
is part of our own dairy herd's health policy. If FMD vaccines are
effective at containing the disease then I think we have a moral and ethical
obligation to recommend their use. The morality is certainly not about the
preservation of meat exports and World Trade as that is entirely
hypocritical when we consider the vast tonnage of produce that is quite
legally imported into the UK from countries both with FMD vaccination
policies and those with endemic FMD.
No, the morality is about ensuring both animal and animal keeper's welfare -
that is what should be pertinent to the veterinary profession. And so I
repeat - if vaccination can be shown in the forum to be effective at
controlling FMD then morally we must recommend it's use.
The platform speakers:
Professor Fred Brown, OBE, FRS is the visiting scientist at the USDA's Plum
Island Animal Disease Center. He has worked with foot and mouth disease
virus and other animal viruses since 1955 and is one of the acknowledged
world's experts on the subject. He firmly believes there is an urgent need
to validate a test which identifies infected animals, whether vaccinated or
not. Further, he feels an internationally sponsored programme to eradicate
the disease in much the same way as was done for smallpox and is now well
underway for poliomyelitis would benefit the animal health industry.
Dr Simon Barteling is an international consultant on FMD, having been the
Head of the Department of Vaccine Production and Research, as well as the
Head of the EU Community Co-ordinating Institute for FMD. He was consultant
at IDL and Onderstepoort Institute and for the South African government on
FMD. He has participated on no less than 23 missions on FMD in a multitude
of countries and has written 48 scientific papers of which half have been in
refereed journals. He was instrumental in the fight for vaccination in the
recent outbreak in Holland.
Dr Paul Sutmoller is a veterinarian graduate from the Rijksuniversiteit in
Utrecht and has worked for more than 35 years as a virologist and
epidemiologist on the prevention, control and eradication of FMD in Latin
America and the Caribbean. Since 1985 he has been the International Animal
Health Consultant a/o for PAHO, World Bank, US Department of Agriculture,
Netherlands Technical Cooperation, OIE. He is presently involved in risk
analysis of animal diseases for the import/export of animals, animal
products and germplasm and carries out seminars and workshops in many
Dr Peter Poll is a graduate from the Veterinary School in Utrecht and when
he answered the call for veterinary surgeons to form a pool, following the
recent outbreak in the Netherlands, he found himself so sickened by the
killing and destruction that he has proposed the following motion for the
Dutch College's AGM on 6th October:
- that many veterinary surgeons have loyally cooperated during the crisis
- that, with continuing non-vaccination policy, a new outbreak in the near
future can be
predicted with a probability of nearly 100%
- that we find the consequences unacceptable for animals, farmers,
veterinary surgeons and
many others concerned, especially in the light of an alternative with
- that, if the non-vaccination policy is continued, we will no longer
cooperate in an
eradication program as carried out in spring 2001
- and that we instruct the Board of the RDVA to negotiate with the
Government and the
industry about the conditions, under which we will resume those tasks.
Ken Tyrrell joined the State Veterinary Service in 1953 and retired in1987
as Divisional Veterinary Officer in charge of Shropshire. As a Senior
Officer stationed in Cheshire, he diagnosed the first case in that county on
30 October 1967 and also diagnosed the last one in 1968. He says, "Those of
us who were involved in the '67/'68 outbreak can only watch the dreadful
mistakes appearing on our TV every day, with a mixture of absolute horror
and dismay. The Report of the Committee of Inquiry laid down many
conclusions and recommendations and if these had been followed from day one
of this outbreak, then the disease would not have spread so widely. Many of
our valuable flocks and herds would still be alive and the rural economy
would not be destroyed."
The Smart Cycler device for rapid diagnosis, which was commended to the
British Government by Professor Fred Brown, as long ago as 9th March, will
be available for inspection and, when doing so, forum members should
carefully consider the following points:
1. Making a sample safe to handle outside of a containment facility.
a. Samples such as nasal swabs, vesicular fluid, swabs of lesions, and/or
nasal/pharyngeal swabs - the swab is inserted into a vial of viral RNA
isolation solution, the handle is broken off and the tip enclosed in the
vial with a lid (This kills the virus - it is no longer an infectious
agent). The whole vial is decontaminated off the farm either through a dunk
tank of appropriate solution or any other approved method. This safe sample
is transported to a local mobile analysis lab - down the road in the back of
a lorry or at a local school lab.
2. Cross contamination
a. Since the samples are being analysed outside of a foot-and-mouth
laboratory, the lab is not contaminated with FMD virus or RNA (no background
introduced from the lab).The assay tubes are pre-made with dried down
reagents at a pristine manufacturing facility. No chance of contamination
with material from a lab.
b. The procedure used in a mobile lab to prevent sample to sample
contamination would be the same as used in a fixed lab and would depend on
the equipment used. These kinds of procedures are used thousands of times
each day in clinical laboratories the world over. The appropriate analysis
controls both positive and negative would be incorporated into the analysis
procedure. The analysis in a clean environment actually benefits the
a. As with all diagnostic procedures, an assay for FMD only tells you of the
presences of the virus in that sample. It does not tell you how the assay
will help manage an outbreak. Those questions can only be answered during an
outbreak, by employing the diagnostic procedures in a controlled way, in
conjunction with a "Gold Standard Assay" or by gaining data in an outbreak
that is not managed by culling. They can not be answered by sitting in an
office and saying it will not work. Science has come a long way since
philosophers divined the answer without doing the experiments.
This device must be considered again by the government and the decision,
announced to a special briefing of journalists by the Government's Chief
Scientific Advisor and Chief Veterinary Officer on Thursday, 13th September
that they could not see any circumstances where vaccination could be used
during this outbreak, must be urgently reconsidered. Failure to do so
would be a national scandal.
The Chairman's Challenge
The FMD Forum at Bristol had all the important elements present - except, of
course, the Government:
Farmers : Union members, non-union members, small farmers, organic farmers,
hobby farmers, small-holders.
Veterinary Surgeons : Large mixed practices, small practices, specialists
and MAFF/DEFRA vets.
Scientists : World Experts on FMD, virologists, epidemiologists.
Consumers : Broad spectrum, from all over the UK.
Associations : Soil Association, NFU, CLA, RSPCA.
Politicians : Members of Parliament, Councillors.
Media : BBC, ITV, National press, local press, columnists.
While the platform speakers were the Scientists and Veterinary Surgeons
(including one who had been a ministry vet during the '67 outbreak), the
contributions from the floor were from both sides of the argument, for and
against vaccination. There was little doubt that the audience, as a whole,
was impressed with what they learned from Professor Fred Brown and the other
scientists and, in particular, the concept of rapid diagnosis - with a 'farm
gate' machine. This was considered an essential tool that should be adopted
What became abundantly clear was the fact that whatever view was held - be
that large farmers keen to cull to eradicate the disease, or small farmers
wanting to retain their stock through a policy of vaccination - the overall
picture was wanting to do the right thing, but not at the wrong price. It
seemed that if vaccinated meat put the farmer at a disadvantage in the
market place, or meant the consumer would not buy it, then there would be
strong resistance. On the other hand, if a decent market could be
maintained and customer confidence boosted, then animal welfare should be
the overriding priority.
It soon became obvious that the science of vaccination was accepted, the
view of the hard-pressed farmer understood and the vet's revulsion at
killing healthy animals acknowledged; the entire audience agreed that the
killing policy was not just wrong, it was plainly not working. The problem
was that the Chairman found himself constantly stating that the answer to a
question directed at the panel required a political response - an answer
from the government.
The common feeling between those assembled was that animal welfare should be
paramount when dealing with such an epidemic, but yet it was clear that the
prevailing attitude of each of the parties was conditioned by their
individual circumstances and, in the main, that was the financial situation
dictated by it. The farmer was brow-beaten or bribed by the official
approach; the vet was mainly inexperienced in the diagnosis of the disease
and intimidated and over-ruled by the department, while the consumer was
deliberately misled and misinformed, in an attempt to hide the reality of
what the ministry was doing.
Unlike the scientists on the panel, those employed by the government had
virtually no knowledge of the disease (only 2 out of the 15 on the
Government's Science Group had any proper qualification concerning FMD).
The incompetence and cruelty of MAFF/DEFRA demanded that another way had to
be found for handling this disease and it was with almost a sense of relief
that the case for vaccination was fully made out at the Forum. However,
even as late as the day before the Forum was announced at a Press Conference
in London, the Chief Scientist and the Chief Vet told a select briefing of
journalists that they could not see any circumstances in the present
outbreak when they could use vaccination. Clearly, with the knowledge that
abounds from scientists and vets of proven ability, such as those on the
panel, if the government accepts such damaging pronouncements, it beggars
While initially the different positions of the various participants of the
forum were rigorously defended, by the end of it, there was much
appreciation of the others' point of view. It is this perception that has
led the Chairmen to put out this challenge:
"Come together, in the interests of animal welfare, and present to the
Government a cohesive policy for dealing with Foot-and-Mouth, in such a way
as to give each of the parties concerned the essential objectives they seek
for themselves - viz:
For the farmers, a fair and sound market for their products.
For the veterinarians, a humane approach for dealing with and controlling
For the consumer, the education about vaccinated meat, as a perfectly
And, for the wider rural community, a countryside that will enhance the
tourist industry and make the nation feel proud of its achievement, in
leading the world towards a global policy of vaccination, as a matter of
best practice in animal welfare."
In accepting this resolution, the Government will need, in turn, to approach
the EU in such a way as to gain the necessary change of current policies, as
a matter of urgency. That change must be the government's goal, as a
prerequisite for saving of the much loved British countryside.
Chairman, FMD Forum
For further information about the Forum, please contact the organizer, Mrs
Alicia Eykyn at: email@example.com or telephone her on 01494 - 711649
or fax on 01494 - 717265
Following our personal report on the above forum, Bonnie responded as
on 9/17/01 9:33 PM, alan & rosie beat at firstname.lastname@example.org wrote:
> Once again, we are left asking the same questions - why are David King,
> Scudamore and other UK scientists telling deliberate lies? Why are they
> determined to eliminate sheep that cannot pose any threat of re-infection?
> Why do they continue to refute the proven and documented efficiency of
> vaccination? Why did they refuse to trial the "Smart Cycler" device for
> rapid FMD diagnosis when Fred Brown offered it on 9th March? And so on .
> . . .
Dear Alan and Rosie,
>From my view, at the conference and then at breakfast the next day with
Brown, Simon Barteling and Paul Sutmuller and others it seemed the consensus
that "Why are they doing it" is actually not the question.
Everyone I've talked to, from Wales to the Pennines, across the whole
spectrum of educational and financial circumstances, knows why they're doing
The real question Is: Why are they allowed to get away with it?
Why are vets, for example, not refusing en masse to carry out culls which
violate their own veterinary principles? (even if they hire Spanish vets,
as Wendy noted, the public would be awakened by a collective outcry from
vets, even if they have become calloused to the cries of farmers.)
And another response, this time to the Heifer project that Val mentioned:
on 9/17/01 9:33 PM, alan & rosie beat at email@example.com wrote:
> Have you heard of Project Heifer?
> It is run by the Presbyterian Church and provides ( mostly third world
> country ) communities with a cow or some chickens etc, so they can earn
> some of their own food, and sell some and they have to give the first
> progeny ( calf..whatever ) to someone else so the good is mulitplied.
> In my wildest dreams I would like to think there may be some welcome for
> animals that would other wise undergo welfare cull, in Project Heifer.
> Let me know if you can't locate them on the web and I will find an
Hi Alan and Rosie and Val,
The International Heifer Project is actually one of my backers
(support/letters of reccommendation, not $$, which they can't provide an
individual). They are a wonderful group. They have raised $250,000 for the
farmers in England suffering as result of foot and mouth. Their charter is
educate 3rd world communities on self-sufficiency and providing them with a
cow, teaching them how to care for it and how to benefit from it.
Here's a contact James DeVries, http://www.heifer.org/
He's in Little Rock Arkansas.
This short extract comes from Theresa's message:
Just had a letter from a friend (farmer) in southern Zimbabwe who says that
they have FMD there but no slaughter;- but then there is no management at
all,- so nothing to learn from. Zimbabweans would not allow their cattle
to be slaughtered as it is their wealth, (bank account)
Our comment: Maybe they would allow them to be slaughtered IF the
"compensation" was higher than the market value . . . . .
Sara sent in this message:
I've just read Wed's newsletter and have a couple of things i'd like to say.
1, If vaccinated animals can pass disease on to unvaccinated animals then
does this mean that getting my dog's vaccinated very year could be harmful
to other dogs. Could they pass on parvovirus and distemper?? (Only joking,
I know this is a load of bull, it just seems to me that if enough science
(?) is thrown around then certain people are
hoping that the vast majority of joe public would give up trying to
undertand what is going on and just go with the flow!)
2 From the warmwell site (I know they debunked this one straight off but I
had visions) You can get a negative test result even though the disease is
present. I had pictures of the disease in funny hats, glasses and
moustaches and other means of disguise while the detectives were running
around trying to catch them and failing dismally. Back at
base they report to the Sarge:- Sir, the
disease isn't here anymore, we can't find them!
From The Times:
THURSDAY SEPTEMBER 20 2001
Disease flare-up fear
BY VALERIE ELLIOTT, COUNTRYSIDE EDITOR
A FLARE-UP of foot-and-mouth is feared in Gloucestershire after the first
case to be found in the county for five months was suspected.
Vets ordered the slaughter of 200 sheep at Dursley yesterday after lesions
were spotted in a ewe's mouth. Vets have delayed a cull of adjacent farms
until the results of blood tests are known. The last case in the county,
where there have been a total of 76, was on April 17 at St Briavels, near
From the Barrow Evening Mail:
FARMERS READY TO IGNORE LAW
MORE than 100 angry Furness farmers gave the government an ultimatum last
night - lift foot-and-mouth restrictions or we will start moving our
livestock regardless of the law. On Monday the Furness peninsula became
unique in Britain as the only disease-free area where farmers cannot buy or
sell livestock. At the heated meeting 120 farmers met senior National
Farmers' Union officers at The Old Mill, near Bardsea, to issue their
threats. One farmer said: "We are dying here. We cannot trade anywhere in
the country. "Soon we will be forced to have our animals put down under the
welfare scheme. "What can the government do, prosecute us all if we start
moving our animals?" To add to farmers' woes blood testing of all livestock
in Furness has begun. If one animal is found to be carrying the disease,
slaughtering and culling will resume across the peninsula. NFU Ulverston
spokes-man Tom Hodgson said: "It has been so long since the last outbreak I
am confident we are now disease-free." On Monday Defra experts in London
declared Cumbria a high-risk county because of the disease outbreaks near
Penrith. No farmer can buy or sell animals outside the county, only inside
Cumbria. Furness farmers are the wrong side of a Defra infection line,
stretching from Aldingham, through Dalton to Broughton and past Millom,
where it finishes. Their animals cannot cross the line, which splits some
Furness farms in half. This means they cannot trade with the rest of the
county, leaving them isolated and only able to trade among themselves.
Mr Hodgson said: "Defra in Carlisle agree it is a ridiculous situation but
London will not move the line.
We are disease-free here but because above the line is still classed an
infected area we cannot trade across it. "Unless something is done there
will be very serious animal welfare (consequences) ...."
And finally, the moment you've all been waiting for - today's joke comes
from our daughter Katie:
Hi mum and dad,
Here is an awful groany joke for you:
News just in from Japan:
All animal movements have been stopped in Tokyo after the discovery
of lots of nibbled mattresses.
Scientists are concerned that it could be an
outbreak of FUTON MOUSE!!!
from Alan & Rosie