FMD 2007 on 7th August – disease has spread further


7th Aug 2007

At 9.30am this morning another outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) was announced on Defra’s website. This confirmed the suspected infection of cattle in a second farm lying several kilometres away from the first holding affected. Last night (Monday) preventative culling had already begun. 

Because of the incubation period of the disease, Defra will not know how far FMD has spread for some time – having initially pleased the nation with what appeared to be a rapid response to the first case. Defra have expanded the ‘Protection Zone’ but has the government done enough to stop a mulitplication of outbreaks?The transmission route to this second farm is not yet certain, but virologist Professor Ian Jones said it is most likely to have come from the initial source – not Wolford farm where the first case was seen.

Naturally the family at the second farm are devastated.
Farmer Laurence Matthews criticised Defra for a lack of information, failure to close footpaths within the local Protection Zone, and for banning all livestock movements, which means that the dead animals cannot be taken away to an incinerator.
Environment Secretary, Hilary Benn has promised that the closure of Rights of Way will be investigated.The strain of the FMD virus has been identified as being the same as the 1967 outbreak. Currently this strain of FMD (of the 7 types known) is apparently not active anywhere in the world. However it is kept by IAH at Pirbright and was used in mid-July by Merial to make a batch of FMD vaccine. The FMD virus elswhere is continuously changing as it gradually mutates, so it is genetically different from the FMD found in the UK in 1967.

Meanwhile results from the official investigation of the facilites at Merial and the Institute of Animal Health are due today. Will this document finally allow the government to say that the FMD virus has come from one of these two places?

Vaccines order for Merial
Rather like closing the stable door after the horse has bolted, the government seems to have latched onto the idea that they could vaccinate against FMD, and have ordered 300,000 doses from Merial’s lab nextdoor to Pirbright. However, when interviewed on BBC Newsnight last night, Hilary Benn would not confirm whether they intended to use them! So it seems doubtful that Defra have a vaccination strategy as yet. (Newsnight on BBC2, 6th Aug 2007)

Yesterday Peter and Juliet Kindersley issued an open letter in support of vaccination. Read here. Today we have received replies from a number of our customers adding their support.


 Defra helpline 08459 335577


One Response to “FMD 2007 on 7th August – disease has spread further”

  1. Jonathan Miller Says:

    Hooray – Sheepdrove is back!

    The ‘old firm’ is reassembled!

    For Mr Miller’s FMD reporting with the most alluring photographs of the chief vet please visit my blog.

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