The contiguous cull did nothing to bring things under control
By the time it was implemented the peak had already been passed.This is a crucial point. But you will not find this in the Lessons Learned Report. Instead you will find the following dramatic statement:
(page 96) "From some perspectives, the rigorous application of a contiguous cull policy was a desperate measure. But the situation was desperate. ..resources were stretched... The epidemic was expanding out of control....there was no time to explore alternatives or carry out experiments"But this is simply not true.
Ro, the so-called case reproduction number calculates the average number of new cases generated by one current case.
For the epidemic to be under control this number must not exceed 1.
In fact Ro could not have been any higher than 1 in the week that began on 26th March 2001 even had ALL IPs really had FMD
When test results are taken into account the actual Ro was 0.8.
Ro taking into account laboratory test results for UK 2001 epidemic(source: of test results Parliamentary question 6650 20/06/02)
19/02 26/02 5/03 12/03 19/03 26/03 2/04 9/04 16/04 23/04 30/04 Ro 6.0 1.6 1.4 1.6 0.8 0.7 0.98 0.96 0.5 0.52
The pre-emptive cull policy put such a strain on already stretched resources that tried and tested methods of swift slaughter of confirmed cases could work even less efficiently.
Actual control of the disease probably went into reverse because of the inevitable slaughter delays among actually infected beasts.
Dr Alex Donaldson, the only one of the Science Group who understood the virus, told them categorically that the epidemic, far from expanding out of control, was in decline Dr Paul Kitching has said the same - as have others - at the EU Inquiry.
Unnecessary KillingThe pre-emptive cullers had no time, it appears, to blood test the contiguously culled farms just to see whether their guesswork had been correct and that a significant number of the firebreak victims really were in fact in danger of spreading the disease.
Given that the pre-emptive slaughter policy was a novel method of control and went against the advice of the scientists at Pirbright, it is surprising that so very few of the farms slaughtered pre-emptively were blood tested at slaughter.
If the pre-emptive slaughter policy had been monitored, by blood testing at slaughter, it would have become apparent during the epidemic that healthy animals were being unnecessarily slaughtered and the policy could have been revised.
That they did NOT test or attempt to revise the policy suggests that getting a swift result at whatever cost was of far greater importance that epidemiological knowledge - and also perhaps that, once the blood tests began to come back time after time with negative results, no one knew how to stop the juggernaut that was carrying so many reputations with it.
What you will not read in the Lessons Learned report - but which is nevertheless true - is that 8226 farms were slaughtered in the pre-emptive cull; no visible signs of disease were found on any of these farms.
Since there were delays in identifying ( 4-5 days) and slaughtering (3-5 days) all pre-emptively slaughtered farms: up to 95% of pre-emptively culled farms were slaughtered on the day clinical signs would have been apparent if exposure had occurred, or several days after.This is what caused the heartbreak among the good farmers who resisted this carnage. They would have raised no objections if they had trusted the policy. But they knew their animals and they knew they were healthy. They knew the policy was wrong - just as they knew that something had gone horribly wrong with the callous and bullying way it was being implemented.
The errors in the Lessons Learned Report are obvious to anyone who has had access to all the data available for UK foot and mouth epidemic. What is not obvious is whether the errors are there because of a genuine lack of understanding or because of a deliberate attempt to hide the truth.