The Cyprus "outbreak" 2007
Contemporary posts on warmwell.com document what happened between October 31 2007 and December 4th when restrictions were lifted.
Wednesday October 31 2007 ~ Test results for quarantined sheep in Cyprus expected this afternoon
Pirbright is testing samples from the Cypriot sheep for FMD, Reuters says that " a foot and mouth outbreak would have a devastating effect on Cyprus's animal husbandry industry with up to 115,000 animals facing a cull."
So no vaccination policy there either It is proving very difficult to discover from each of the epidemiological reports on the DEFRA site and the 10 separate epidemiological reports submitted by Debby Reynolds to the OIE (see links here) exactly how many animals were in fact infected and what were the various justifications given (if any) for the killing of so many healthy ones. As Dr Ruth Watkins commented yesterday,
"I only wish that IAH would do the same for FMD; to give out the information on its screening by RT-PCR and their work on the sequencing of the FMD virus from every infected premise so that the timeline of infection is confirmed. It might also rule out intervening infections ie in deer between IP1 and IP2 and IP 5..."Unfortunately, Pirbright is unable to do so when DEFRA - for reasons one can only guess at - will not permit such clarity and sharing of information to be made available.
UPDATE NO FMD in Cyprus. Test results received by Cyprus today, See www.eubusiness.com (registration required)
26 Nov 2007 ~ "This strange event has been characterised by EU-dictated cullings and other control measures; convincing evidence for a circulating virus is still lacking."
It looks even more than ever likely that Cyprus had no active FMD virus at all. This is of little comfort when we contemplate the miserable scenes that have taken place. Of the reported news that "There have been 2 new cases of foot and mouth disease [FMD] located in Cyprus", the ProMed moderator comments: Are these findings indicative of "outbreaks?" According to reliable sources, they are just indicative of sporadic positive serology.... Since the start of the event, all findings have been serological, affecting a small number of sheep..... Not a single suspected case has been recorded ....within 3 km of the index farm. Similarly, no suspected cases have been detected within the 10 km zone....
This strange event has been characterised by EU-dictated cullings and other control measures; convincing evidence for a circulating virus is still lacking." Read the ProMed moderator's concerns in full
November 18 2007 ~ Doubts deepen as to the existence of active FMD in Cyprus
On the basis solely of individual serological (NSP) FMD tests in a few animals in Cyprus, over 2000 animals have been killed. Yet there is a terrible illogicality here. It is claimed in the EU that the tests are not specific enough for individual animals. This, it is claimed, is why they are accepted only on a herd basis. Yet in Cyprus we are seeing individual NSP tests being treated as a valid enough reason to assume the presence of active disease. The positive 3ABC tests, detecting Non Structural Proteins (NSP) might indicate merely the past application of poorly inactivated FMD vaccines and not active virus at all.
Vaccination with modern, potent vaccines tried and tested across the globe is even more effective on islands where borders are not shared. It has not been considered by Cypriot officialdom who wring their hands and blame Brussels. It seems, however, that unofficial, poor vaccines may be behind the present misery One goat farmer, also quoted in the Cyprus Mail, says
"And if anyone did buy faulty vaccinations from the north, no one will admit it."The ProMed Moderator seizes upon this:
"Subscribers's attention is drawn to the sentence above. The possibility that vaccination has taken place in the past within Cyprus territory(ies), or that vaccinated animals found their way into local flocks, deserves thorough investigation. Its outcome may be significant in explaining the detection of several seropositive adult sheep within a population of susceptible, predominantly seronegative population of sheep, goats, cattle, and pigs"
November 18 2007 ~ ".. How can you kill 2000 animals for one case of FMD?"
The report in the Cyprus Mail brings home the fearsome reality of a bureaucratic killing machine in the community and will remind those in the UK of the sight we never want to see again - and fear we shall.
"Veterinary Service officials dressed from head to toe in all-white are everywhere as if on the set of a futuristic disaster movie. They move around farms in white cars, spraying, decontaminating, setting up check-points, testing animals, and when the order comes in, culling and burying them"The policy is stamping on the small farmers:
"...... They suffer more because they look after their sheep day and night. Rain or snow, they are there for them when they are pregnant, help them to give birth, milk their young. For them it is very hard, they can't look..."And this is what our concern about DEFRA, about the EU and about the patent absurdity of current animal health policy is all about: this callous obsession for central control leaves ordinary people in a nightmare from which they cannot escape. All responsibility has been wrested from them The Cyprus Mail reports one Cypriot: "..when we say let us bring in private experts to check for FMD, they say 'No'..."
There are also rumours that the killing off of the animals is highly lucrative for those on the make: "land prices have shot up in this little village..."
How to get one's hands on cheap land in the country is of abiding interest to many - and not only in Cyprus, of course.
16 November 2007 ~ "Brussels made it crystal clear that there was no choice than to proceed with the immediate culling of livestock or risk serious consequences..."
ProMed quotes this from the Cyprus Mail today - but the Moderator then comments, "....The decision to apply stamping out in the flocks found "infected" on ground of several positive serological tests in adult animals -- while virus/antigen remaining undetected -- is assumed to be the outcome of EU policy. Additional commentary, in particular explaining the decision -- or correcting the said assumption -- will be welcomed." (our italics)
It will be remembered that Paul Sutmoller was quoted with gratitude by the same moderator for his comments, which included the following:
"..one wonders if immediate vaccination of the susceptible livestock population of the island has been considered to bring the outbreak quickly under control.Hundreds of animals are being culled. There is as yet no definite evidence that active FMD virus is present in Cyprus at all.
There are no scientific reasons to believe that under the prevailing conditions of Cyprus stamping-out may be more effective than vaccination in controlling the disease. Is that not exactly why the EU promotes vaccination if FMD occurs in the European part of Turkey?..."
Friday November 9 2007 ~ "I tried to respond to your blog but I fell foul of the Google log in..."
What Dr Ruth Watkins wanted to say was this:
" Surely Cyprus has the option of vaccination against FMD? What did the EU visitors advise? Even if it turns out to be Bluetongue that gave those sheep symptoms (and some serotypes and strains of Bluetongue are very mild) no harm is done by FMD vaccination- but slaughtering the cypriot farmers flocks - some as precautionary measures- is appalling. One must find evidence of new seroconversions or above all the virus in animals acutely infected to be sure there is an outbreak. The farmers may have bought sheep from an area where FMD infection has occurred, such as Turkey; the animals could have been infected a year ago or more. If animals are slaughtered without taking proper specimens, they will will not solve the question of whether they have FMD or and Bluetongue. What a shame Roger Breeze cannot go out there with his kit and do PCR for both viruses on some of the ill sheep."We couldn't agree more. Where are those with clout? Why is Cyprus not being told to vaccinate? Can anyone advise those in authority there?
Thursday November 8 2007 ~"If the veterinary service does not show me in writing whose animals actually have this disease, no one will enter my farm to kill my animals,”
Farmers in Cyprus are tearful, angry and disbelieving at the nightmare into which they have been plunged. New blog
Thursday November 8 2007 ~ "Even farmers who have no export trade now find themselves hampered by restrictions on their domestic activities; and all to pacify the rest of the EU."
Like so many of us, Daniel Hannan, MEP for the South East, says the EU restrictions on livestock exports are for commercial rather than scientific reasons.
"Pause, for a moment, and think of what these men and women have been through in recent years: two foot and mouth outbreaks, one inflicted on them by their own government; the decline in world prices; bluetongue; late subsidy payments; floods.As for the CAP, he favours replacing it "with an acreage-based grant determined by land quality" or "we could adopt the Country Landowners' Association scheme for a transferable agricultural bond". Under either option, he says, farmers would get 90 per cent of the money contributed rather than, as happens under the CAP, 40 per cent.
English farmers must feel as though they are living through a series of Biblical murrains..." Read his Blog here
Wednesday November 7 2007 ~“I told them to wait for the final results. Then they started making me offers...”
The misery of Cyprus continues (see latest Blog) One farmer, Demetris Dirris, fought back tears during the House Agriculture Committee hearing on Monday. He said his livestock were like his children:
“They offered me £150 for every adult sheep… and £20 for every lamb [to be culled]. I said to them, ‘I wouldn’t even accept £1,150.’ “Then we sat down and looked at another price estimate. I told them to get up and leave and not to come back. The next day they returned, and this time they didn’t even bother to talk to me or ask me to sign anything. They just went ahead and executed the animals,” Dirris said.See also www.cyprus-mail.com
November 4 2007 ~ "angry farmers blocked the entrance to the two farms"
Cyprus wanted to kill "up to 300 goats and sheep" today before tests are returned tomorrow but the scheduled cull did not go ahead after angry farmers blocked the entrance to the two farms. Reuters "Authorities said they were also extending a quarantine zone around two suspect farms in the southern district of Larnaca."
How depressing that Cyprus too is clinging to the trading advantage of "FMD free without vaccination" instead of pushing for these outdated rules to be changed. It is perverse that animals cannot be protected with the boon of the available modern potent vaccines and the technology of on-site diagnosis.
UPDATE On the basis of "some clinical signs" the killing has gone ahead today. It seems that lab tests have even now not been received but 2 EU veterinary experts are in Larnaca. See Bloomberg
November 4 2007 ~ Cyprus on FMD high alert again.
The 1500 animals in danger of being culled last Wednesday and that were reprieved by a negative result from Pirbright a few days ago are back in the firing line since Cyprus too, it seems, would prefer to kill than protect. See www.int.iol.co.za
We find it quite extraordinary that - in spite of the potency and success of FMD vaccines, the idea is still being repeated in all parts of the Western World as "fact", that there are "no readily available vaccines that would eliminate the need to depopulate animals" The untruths continue. The bottom line is the trade protectionism advantages that "FMD free without vaccination" status confers on the states that eschew modern techniques of vaccination and diagnosis.
November 2 2007 ~ Surveillance Zone to go at last
DEFRA says it will be lifted on Monday 5 November "subject to there being no change in the disease situation and the completion of the necessary surveillance testing." See DEFRA page which also says, "Discussions are ongoing with the European Commission regarding further changes to allow the easing of export restrictions"
December 8 2007 ~ "....confusing results and statements by the Commission as to whether there was or was not an epidemic of FMD in Cyprus."
The Cyprus Mail (quoted by ProMed) reports on a letter sent to the EU's President Jose Manuel Barroso by MEP Marios Matsakis. He asked Barosso to clearly state whether or not there is, or is not, an epidemic in Cyprus, could there be an epidemic with a "non-active" virus and if so was what was the purpose of taking restrictions if the virus was non infective to other animals.
"...The farmers of Cyprus and the Cypriot public in general are fed up with the way the apparent 'outbreak' has been handled at Commission level and at the Cyprus Ministry of Agriculture level. ..."The ProMed moderator has " questioned the interpretation of the positive serological reactions in sheep as being indicative of disease" Today he adds, "no clinical evidence for FMD could be discovered in cattle and pigs in the vicinity of positive sheep; neither could antibodies be demonstrated in these species." (See Dec 4, and Nov 27 and Nov 18 and Nov 16 on this page. Also Blog for November 8th. The attempt to impose rules on disease from afar has once again caused far more grief than the disease itself. A rethink about the EU response to FMD is surely well overdue.)
December 4 2007 ~ EU lifts foot-and-mouth disease restrictions on Cyprus pork - leaving questions about the Cyprus "outbreak" unanswered
Cyprus is now allowed to resume exports of unprocessed pork - and the statement in the Cyprus Financial Mirror that this is because pigs are " considered to be less susceptible to foot-and-mouth disease" is a very odd statement. The ProMed Moderator says that the lifting of the export ban from nearly the whole island, "means -- de facto -- that the EU recognizes Cyprus as a territory free of circulating FMD virus." In other words, as we have noted below, the positive serological reactions in sheep were not necessarily indicative of disease. The moderator continues:
" in view of the unconvincing clinical description, absence of circulating virus, and negative serological reactions in susceptible cattle and pigs in the vicinity of the "affected" flocks, combined with the absence of any disease signs in these susceptible species.... past vaccinations could have been the cause of positive sheep serology. To sum-up and clear this unusual event, a follow-up or final report to the OIE deserves to be submitted." (Read full posting)The situation in Cyprus led to much unnecessary killing, unhappiness and anxiety. It all emphasises how important it is to have the most up-to-date testing technology in the hands of knowledgeable and responsible people in all Member States when the consequences of suspected disease are so draconian.