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With the Animal Death Bill very much in mind, we thought you should remind yourselves of the official MAFF policy for extended culling as set out in this document on their website.

Take particular note of para. 6 and think about the proposed "appeals" procedure to the Divisional Veterinary Officer:

Foot and mouth disease 9 April 2001

MAFF: Veterinary Risk Assessment No.2: slaughter policy on contiguous premises

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Introduction

1. This note sets out the contiguous slaughter policy required to stop the spread of foot and mouth disease in Great Britain.

Reasons for policy

2. FMD is a highly infectious disease. The strain responsible for the present epidemic is known to be particularly virulent. Key methods of transmission in this epidemic have been through animal, human, mechanical or air borne transfer between neighbouring farms. In the light of this epidemiological background it is believed that susceptible animals on farms neighbouring a farm where infection has been confirmed will have been exposed to the infection of foot and mouth disease.

3. The State Veterinary Service has advised that culling susceptible animals on contiguous farms is vital to prevent further onward spread of the disease. This view is supported by the advice from three teams of University epidemiologists which formed the basis of a report to the UK Government by the Chief Scientific Adviser indicating that the key methods which have the greatest prospect of bringing the epidemic quickly under control are:

(a) the slaughter of all livestock on farms where there are confirmed cases of infection, within 24 hours of the first report; and

(b) rapid slaughter of susceptible animals on contiguous farms within 48 hours.

4. Failure to implement these measures would mean continuing growth in the scale of the epidemic for a further lengthy period.

5. The policy on contiguous farms applies to cattle as well as sheep (and pigs and goats). This is because cattle are highly susceptible to infection. They can shed virus and infect others for some days before they are visibly ill.

The policy

6. In the light of these factors, the policy is that cattle, as well as sheep and other susceptible species, should be slaughtered on farms which are next to a farm where there is confirmed infection. This does not depend on identifying infection on the contiguous premises. This policy should be applied rigorously everywhere. Priority should be given where necessary to cases posing particular risk of spread of disease for example cases outside existing infected areas or on the edge of the existing concentrations of disease and around newly infected premises. Senior Veterinary Management should be consulted where appropriate.

7. If exceptionally there remain contiguous premises where 21 days have passed since the date of confirmation of FMD at the relevant infected place, cattle and pigs which have been clinically examined and found healthy can be assumed not to have become infected, and should not be compulsorily slaughtered. However any sheep or goats present should be slaughtered as clinical symptoms may not be apparent.

ENDS

Our comment: Is any comment necessary? The wording of para. 6 leaves no room for any doubt, and more to the point, no room for any grounds for appeal. The contiguous cull should be applied "rigorously everywhere" and let's not forget that in Devon alone more than 200 farms that refused the cull this time around remain disease free! Next time they will all be automatically killed. That is just one aspect of the evil we are facing in this Bill and which we need to keep clearly focussed in our minds.

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