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FMD outbreak limited to one premises over three sites

by 5m Editor
6 August 2007, at 6:15pm

UK - Chief Veterinary Officer Debby Reynolds has today set out latest progress on tackling the Foot and Mouth Disease outbreak in Surrey.

Debby Reynolds - Major communication effort under way
She stressed that the operation continued to focus on containment and eradication of the disease and that livestock keepers should continue to be vigilant and maintain high levels of biosecurity.

Key points set out by Debby Reynolds include:
  • There is currently one Infected Premises. This had animals on three sites. There are two Protection Zones, one of which encompasses Pirbright and the site where the original infected animals were identified. The second Protection Zone encompasses the site where infection was subsequently found. A large Surveillance Zone of 10 kilometres surrounds the two Protection Zones.
  • The cull is now complete. A total of 97 animals have been culled - 64 from the infected premises, plus 33 from two dangerous contact premises. The carcasses have been disposed of by incineration.
  • A major communication effort has been under way in the area. Telephone contact has been made with all known premises in the Protection Zones and approximately 500 packs containing leaflets and letters have been delivered to all known premises in the Protection Zones and most of the premises in the Surveillance Zone. The Defra helpline (08459 335577) is open from 06h00 to 22h00 every day.
  • The HSE-led investigation is progressing rapidly and initial reports are expected imminently. Professor Brian Spratt will begin his review into biosecurity arrangements at the Pirbright site tomorrow. Included in the evidence will be the outcome of the immediate investigation currently being carried out by officials from the HSE, Defra, and the Veterinary Medicines Directorate.
  • As part of Defra’s contingency plan and in order to ensure full preparedness, 300,000 doses of strain-specific vaccine have been ordered from the UK’s vaccine bank, to be made up from antigen. No decision has been taken on whether or not to use the vaccine.
Debby Reynolds said:

“All of us share the same aim - to eradicate FMD and to minimise the impact on the countryside, farmers and rural communities. We will continue to do all that is necessary to achieve that.

“In line with contingency planning arrangements, we have ordered vaccine production and for vaccination teams to move into the area, this is not an indication that a decision has been taken to vaccinate. It has not.

“Production of vaccine will be carried out at the Merial laboratory, obviously we would not be doing this without careful consideration and assessment of the risks. Producing vaccine from antigen does not involve use of live virus. We are working very closely with the HSE and the Veterinary Medicines Directorate regarding any work at Merial, and they are satisfied that it does not affect their investigation.”

Debby Reynolds also paid tribute to the large number of people who worked tirelessly since the outbreak was identified, including Animal Health, operational partners and key stakeholders.

And she stressed that the countryside and footpaths remain open. Whilst some parks, safari parks and other wildlife centres have taken the decision to close or restrict access, neither Defra nor the Department for Culture, Media and Sport is advising that such action is necessary.

5m Editor