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October 27 2006 ~ Farming Today this morning reports a suspected case of FMD

Warmwell Transcript

"Mark Holdstock:...A suspected case of foot and mouth disease is being investigated at an abattoir in Essex. DEFRA says a pig with symptoms which could indicate the disease was discovered last night. Our reporter, Sarah Swadling, has more details.

Sarah, what's known about this incident?

SS: Well, Mark. DEFRA has confirmed tests are being carried out to determine whether a pig which was found to have a blistered nose at Cheale Meats near Brentwood in Essex has foot and mouth disease although they are also looking at the possibility that this pig may have had another serious contagion like Swine Vesicular - but they do have to treat an animal with those sort of symptoms like a blistered nose as suspected foot and mouth. Now samples have been sent to the Institute of Animal Health laboratories at Pirbright in Surrey and if - Heaven Forbid - it is Foot and Mouth - then the results could be known later this morning. If not, then those test results will take longer to come through. DEFRA says the abattoir will be closed today and they'll be informing farmers of a ban on livestock movements within an eight kilometre radius of the abattoir.

MH: So how seriously is the Government and its officials taking this?

SS: Well I've been told that this is being taken "extremely seriously" as you'd expect, but the message at the moment is very much one counselling against alarm. There have been many suspected cases of foot and mouth since the 2001 crisis but this is being treated as slightly above some of the previous ones.

Now this could turn out to be a false alarm entirely, it could turn out to be another disease like Swine Vesicular which could be potentially very damaging still for the British Pig Industry - but there is still that possibility hanging over us that this could be foot and mouth.

MH: And this abattoir, Cheale Meats, now this is the abattoir where foot and mouth was first discovered in 2001, wasn't it?

SS: Indeed. There's an eerie sense of deja vu about this. The abattoir specialises in slaughtering sows at the end of their productive lives and it handles about two and a half thousand animals a week. Now, in 2001, Cheale Meats was where foot and mouth disease was first picked up because cull sows from what is still believed to be the source of the outbreak, Bobby Waugh's farm at Heddon-on-the-Wall in Northumberland were taken there and then, of course, as we know, the disease spiralled, culminating in a crisis which cost the economy about eight billion pounds - but that is all History. There are differences compared to today's situation.

Then, in 2001, highly suspicious signs of foot and mouth were found in 27 pigs at the abattoir; today, at the moment, we are talking abut possible symptoms in one pig.

MH: If the very worst case scenario is realised and this pig should have foot and mouth, the government has said it would do things differently this time, hasn't it?

SS: Yes. So much of the damage to the rural economy during the 2001 foot and mouth outbreak was caused by the decision to shut all the footpaths across the country, giving the impression that the countryside and the vitally important tourist industry were all "closed for business".
Now, in another foot and mouth outbreak, only paths in areas actually hit by the disease would be closed. Also, that image we all saw on our televisions, night after night, of those grisly burning pyres wouldn't happen the government says if there's a next time.
In 2001, foot and mouth was controlled, as everyone remembers, by culling infected animals and those thought to be what they called "Dangerous Contacts". The sheer scale of that slaughter turned the stomachs of many and led to pressure for vaccination to be used. Now, this time - if there is a next time, the jury is still out on whether that would happen in any future outbreak. The government says that whether or not it would use vaccination to control foot and mouth would "depend on a complex range of factors at the time". Ends

October 28 2006 ~ The CVO, Debby Reynolds, congratulates SVS, Meat Hygiene Service and Pirbright for their swift response

October 27 2006 ~ Initial tests negative.

Extract from BBC World at One 27 October 2006

Warmwell Transcript

Interviewer: "For Cheale Meats in Essex, last night must have felt as if History was repeating itself. Five years ago, their abattoir near Brentwood was where that year's outbreak of foot and mouth disease was first detected.
Yesterday, during a routine inspection, a vet reported two suspected cases either of foot and mouth or a similar illness which can affect swine, to the Meat Inspection Service.
The initial test results have come back negative but the abattoir is still waiting for the All Clear.

Paul Cheale is one of the companies directors:

Paul Cheale: Every animal that comes into a slaughterhouse has to pass the inspection of a veterinary surgeon and on this particular occasion the veterinary surgeon saw two pigs which she had reason to have a query of, although our staff who obviously had an experience of foot and mouth because we've had it before, believe there was absolutely nothing wrong with them.
Her opinion differed and therefore she reported a possible case of foot and mouth"

Interviewer: And there have been reports of blisters on the pigs' snouts? Is that the sort of thing that she was concerned about?

Paul Cheale: Well. Yeah. And I mean, my staff reported no blisters, only what you'd have on a pig's snout that had been rooting.

Interviewer: Nonetheless, that report went in. What effect has that had on your business over the last 24 hours?

Paul Cheale: We think that, on what we consider on the flimsiest of evidence, our whole business has been disrupted totally - and once you set this hare running, it has ramifications for the industry right across Europe.

Interviewer: What is supposed to happen when a report of this kind is made?

Paul Cheale: The first reaction should have been to send a vet to the area from which the farm, the pigs came and examine the rest of the stock.
That could have been done within hours.

And if he'd arrived at the farm and looked at the stock and saw no incidence of foot and mouth then you can bet your bottom dollar that there is absolutely nothing there.

As far as I'm aware, this did not happen.

In the meantime, I've got hundreds of tons of meat on wheels, waiting to be delivered and uncertainty s to whether I can tell my customer if he's getting them or not.

I mean, some have cancelled because they're frightened there might be something in it. And this causes an enormous amount of damage to us and to the industry.

Interviewer: And what are those ramifications?

Paul Cheale: Well, it places into there... immediately in people's minds, the health of our stock in the UK> And it was so unnecessary."

Interviewer: Paul Cheale.
We were hoping to talk to the Chief Vet, Debbie Reynolds, to explain how the case had been handled, but we were told she was unavailable.

( Dr Reynolds was, in fact, busy with a telephone conference for stakeholders) 






























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