Sunday, 7 October 2007


Oct 8 2007 ~ Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire, Oxfordshire and West Sussex may be freed from the high risk zone
    Farmers Guardian There were hopes this week that Defra would announce relaxations to foot-and-mouth restrictions and remove a number of counties from the high risk zone.

      ".......a case for the removal of counties like Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire, Oxfordshire and West Sussex from the zone.
      ......unlikely however that counties like Hampshire and Berkshire will be released yet because of their proximity to the outbreaks in Surrey."
    This is, according to the Farmers Guardian's always reliable Alistair Driver, because Friday's epidemiological report from DEFRA said it was very unlikely that foot-and-mouth had spread out of the localised area in Surrey. However, the section on page 17 asking if FMD virus could be outside the PZ and SZ zones uses movement patterns from 2006 to gauge risk while on page 5, the report says that the new cases "raise concern that others may arise" and paragraph 31 expresses evident irritation at the "intractable" behaviour of some of the cattle making surveillance difficult as the cows evidently resent being approached. (They have perhaps heard of DEFRA's preference for "depopulation" rather than for vaccination and veterinary care.

Oct 5 2007 ~ NFU's vaccination Q and A still quoting David King..

    Among the fallacies on NFU's vaccination statement we read :
    • "FMD vaccines are live- so there is always a risk of a vaccine actually causing disease." No! The modern approved FMD vaccines do not contain "live" virus and most certainly cannot cause disease.
    • "There are many different strains of FMD virus, and a specific vaccine is required for each strain" - ideally yes, but even DEFRA (pdf) says "... the new strain of FMDV that had been discovered in Egypt....showed that despite the poor predicted match between this A strain and the new Egypt virus, the A vaccine could provide useful cross-protection provided that a very potent vaccine was used.. The new strain of serotype A ....seemed to be controlled by use of an A22 Iraq vaccine." However, in Surrey we knew the exact strain and had access to an exact match - hardly surprisingly...
    • "FMD can be controlled and eradicated relatively quickly by culling and bio-security measures alone" Hardly. In this outbreak we knew the source, the strain and the area of immediate spread - but here we are two months later with apparently new disease infection at IP8 at least thirty miles away.
    • "FMD... cannot live for long periods outside a host. It is relatively easy to kill the virus and its spread can be prevented or reduced by strict bio-security". The frantic farmers near Egham are discovering that it is even more "relatively easy" to kill their livestock on mere suspicion.

    • The NFU does not oppose vaccination for FMD: we agree that it should be available as part of the control strategy and would support its use, if this is what veterinary and scientific advice recommended Alas then, that the veterinary and scientific advice that has been recommending its use all along has been sidelined by such as Fred Landeg, Debby Reynolds and the ever watchful Chief Scientific Advisor.
    • We opposed vaccination in the very widespread 2001 outbreak because no one could demonstrate that vaccination would bring the disease under control more quickly or that fewer animals would be culled as a result (this view was subsequently endorsed by the Government Chief Scientist).
      On the contrary, there was the perfect example of Uruguay and the expert advice of international experts in the field.
    Unfortunately, Sir David King, a chemist, is not allowing his own serious lack of FMD expertise to hinder him from using his very powerful position to dominate the decision making process for the worse in 2007 just as he did in 2001.

Oct 5 2007 ~ "Gordon Brown is anxious that the electorate should think that FMD is an issue approaching history."

    The Scotsman today points out that lambs are now starving in the fields. The relaxation of restrictions on October 12 will come too late and not go far enough. ".... few farmers will be able to meet the strict criteria on movements which threaten to lock up their businesses. The public perception and reality down on the farm are miles apart."
    Dan Buglass says a proposal, to be discussed in Brussels later today, may allow for compensation following the killing and disposal of the now excess sheep, "but the cost will have to be picked up by the UK government."

    He adds,
    "The hint of an impending general election is in the air, but the Prime Minister is keen to avoid a repeat of the scenario of 2001..." The public at large does not fully comprehend that small unwanted lambs are dying and bull calves are being born and then shot - all because of a disaster not of the farmers' making. The animal loving public would be horrified - but as we have seen there is a deafening silence in most of the press about the handling of foot and mouth - and yet another anodyne "Review" is about to take place.

Oct 5 2007 ~ "Dr Iain Anderson has been asked by the Government to chair a review of the Government's reaction to the 2007 Foot and Mouth Disease Outbreak" DEFRA

    In 2002, in our own interview by the Anderson inquiry, we found that concerns about emergency vaccination and rapid on-farm tests were somewhat impatiently swept aside. Nor did Dr Anderson wish to hear of Dr David Shannon's opinion of the "scientific group" brought in by Professor David King. Other participants in Dr Anderson's in camera proceedings, in particular, the National Foot and Mouth Group
      " felt completely disillusioned and let down by the Lessons Learned Inquiry and its modus operandi." (more)
    How far the recommendations of the various post 2001 inquiries have been met can be considered here. ( If one thinks "Good heavens...precious few", other more profound questions may occur.)
    Now, Dr Anderson (not to be confused with the Roy Anderson of 2001 who has since moved dizzyingly onwards and upwards) is to perform his service again and "comments about the outbreak and its handling are invited by 16 November 2007." Since the most recent infected premises, IP8, shows that virus is still very much on the loose as active disease able to infect animals now, a retrospective at this stage might be thought a trifle premature.

Oct 5 2007 ~ "Relatively small special-interest groups (parts of the meat-producing farming sector and the food trade) seem to have had an undue influence over decisions"

    The Temporary Committee of the EU, while it may have been set up as a damage limitation exercise in 2001, soon found itself caught up in human experience that defied being airbrushed out. The MEPs under the guidance of Caroline Lucas which enabled them to sidestep official arrangements for them to meet only approved "small special-interest groups", were sometimes moved to tears by the accounts told with such sadness and dignity as here at Knowstone. Their conclusion? "Emergency vaccination with the aim of allowing animals to live for normal further use should no longer be regarded only as a last resort for controlling FMD but must be considered as a first-choice option from the outset when an outbreak occurs."
    Of particular relevance today is paragraph 34 of that EU Committee's final report into the 2001 outbreak
      "..... some farmers' opposition to vaccinations was evidently due to the mistaken belief that there was no EU compensation available for the possible loss of value of vaccinated animals. Relatively small special-interest groups (parts of the meat-producing farming sector and the food trade) seem to have had an undue influence over decisions ...."

Oct 4 2007 ~ The need for an independent Expert Group

    Once again we must return to this. If - as the EU Directive decrees -there were an advisory Expert Group composed of epidemiologists, veterinary scientists and virologists " in a balanced way, to maintain expertise in order to assist the competent authority in ensuring preparedness against an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease" it is unlikely that we should have reached this grim position. Yet, although we are told there is such a group, we cannot track down its membership - nor subsequently whether those members are really independent of DEFRA. Can anyone help here?
    UPDATE We are grateful to the kind reader who sent this link. See also below

Oct 4 2007 ~ IP8 - 95 cattle, 16 sheep and 1 goat - and four more herds killed too

    IP8 had 95 cattle, 16 sheep and 1 goat. We learned that FMD was detected in four animals (although now it looks as though it was only one) but the lesions were considered to be only 2 days old. There were no signs of old antibodies or active virus in the corpses of the others nor in those premises killed as so-called "dangerous contacts".
    UPDATE From "Holding comprising four premises - only one animal at one premises was affected according to preliminary laboratory results, animals at all four premises were stamped out for disease control purposes." ie 135cows and 16 sheep The goat is not mentioned by Dr Reynolds.
    Knowledge that the lesions tested in IP8 proved to be the result of fresh infection must raise very serious questions about spread.
    In the continuing absence of ring vaccination we can gloomily forecast further panicky killing without benefit of testing first.
    All who have studied the question know that
    • the technology to test accurately and rapidly on-site exists and works see here
    • modern potent vaccines give solid protection after one injection for emergency vaccination (see here)
    • No field work has EVER shown spread from vaccinated animals
    As for vaccine "masking disease" this fallacy needs to be urgently and publicly investigated - not reported in the press as fact. Animals are vaccinated in herds and from the outside inwards. Even if vaccination came too late to prevent infection in the cases nearest the epicentre, there would be no subsequent spread. To hear ignorance among those directing the killing policy is heartbreaking in the extreme and one cannot but wonder what on earth is going on. Some have even suggested deliberate land clearance. The alternative seems to be dithering ignorance and incompetence on a tragic scale.

The rest of the posts are at