Absent from the Contingency Plan are the crucial topics on improving diagnosis and record/data acquisition and analysis.
Professor Martin Hugh-Jones’ comments, written before the present outbreak, sum it up perfectly:
“Some aspects which I hold are vital:
 Animal side tests of reliable sensitivity and high specificity. Nobody should or need wait for reference-quality laboratory confirmation.
 Wireless data acquisition from the farm at the time of examination and preliminary diagnosis by laptop or other suitable electronic device. Ditto updated data as the herd is processed. If "wireless" is difficult, it should be through a website or other access system that is available at all times. This should, if possible, include digital graphics acquisition and transmission -- if Page Street doesn't believe the VO, he can, for example, send a photograph of the lesions he has seen or of anything else.
 That data should be immediately omni-available, at least throughout Defra.
 The data loggers should have GPS chips installed so that there are no errors in accurately locating diseased, suspect, or healthy herds.
 Data should be GIS linked so that situations on individual farms can be queried remotely -- e.g., klik on a farm icon on a quasi-3-D map display, as well as to either constantly updated frequent analyses or by idiot-able custom analyses.
Use my other comments as you like.
I don't think it is wise to firmly believe that all future FMD episodes will be like 2001. One of the commonest errors is to assume a worse-case scenario. Obviously the system should be able to be racked to deal with such an event. But as presently planned I get the distinct impression that there will be more veterinary officers at committee meetings or writing reports for committees than out in the field dealing with the problem…
As a last word, Defra should not be re-fighting the last war, but planning and training for the next.”
Martin Hugh-Jones is a UK (Cambridge)-trained vet, currently Professor of Epidemiology, Dept. of Pathobiological Sciences, School of Veterinary Medicine, Louisiana State University, and Moderator of ProMED-mail.
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