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Study slams contiguous culling
Source: FWi 25 February 2005

By Shelley Wright, Scotland correspondent

HUNDREDS OF thousands of animals were culled unnecessarily in Dumfries and Galloway during the 2001 foot-and-mouth disease outbreak, according to a new report.

In this week's Veterinary Record, Michael Thrusfield, an epidemiologist at Edinburgh University's vet school, questions the validity of the slaughter policies adopted at the time of the outbreak.

On the 177 infected premises in the county in 2001, about 56,800 cattle and 141,000 sheep were slaughtered.

But in a bid to control the theoretical airborne spread of the disease, additional measures were taken.

All susceptible stock on farms sharing borders with infected premises was slaughtered in the so-called contiguous cull.

These measures resulted in the culling of an extra 23,200 cattle and 423,000 sheep.

But Mr Thrusfield's study questions whether the airborne spread was significant enough to warrant the cull.

He found that only two of the county's cases were directly linked by the airborne spread.