Pen y graig goch
Carmarthenshire SA19 9TH
01550 740 660
Mr Loudon Hamilton
Secretary to the FMD Enquiry
Royal Society of Edinburgh
22-26 George Street
EDINBURGH EH2 2PQ 23rd January 2002
Submission to the Royal Society of Edinburgh FMD Enquiry
I am a recently retired clinical virologist and have a small farm in Carmarthenshire with a few cattle and a flock of purebred white-faced welsh mountain sheep hefted to the Black Mountain at the western end of the Brecon Beacons National Park. I have campaigned for vaccination from a month into the epidemic when it was clear that FMD infection was not under control.
At first I found it difficult to make my voice heard but I took the precaution of sending my unpublished letter to the Times to various influential and concerned persons who began to circulate what I wrote on the Internet. Thus my voice joined others in asking for the application of up to date methods and science to combat what had become a medieval plague upon upland areas in Britain.
It became apparent when I attended meetings that the vets and MAFF officials hardly knew any virology or principles of infectious disease control and vaccination and had not sought to inform themselves on FMD virus. I was deferred to by the Welsh CVO at a public meeting at Builth Wells organised by the NFU and FUW at which I was a member of the audience and challenged the misleading untruths they were spouting on FMD vaccine from the platform. I also clarified a question on how the diagnosis of FMD was made that the panel could not answer. The NFU and FUW would not share a platform with me at any further meeting at which I was subsequently asked to speak in Wales. At only one of the meetings I spoke was an NFU man on the panel, at Penrith in Cumbria and I found myself having to defend him against furious animosity from the audience!
My job has been to head-up the diagnostic virology laboratory at St Mary's Hospital Paddington London for 10 years. I was Senior Lecturer in clinical virology at Imperial College School of Medicine and Honorary Consultant to St Mary's Hospital and was responsible not only for the clinical diagnostic service to the hospital and GPs but also for the education and examination of medical students in virology. I have first hand experience in the control of viral infection. Therefore I do know about the provision of a diagnostic service; I have been professionally trained to provide it, which is more than any vet in the UK to my knowledge*.
I would be willing to attend your enquiry to give further and fuller particulars on the subject should you so wish.
My submission is divided into three aspects of FMD control:
Veterinary Knowledge of Virology
Diagnosis and Testing and the role of Pirbright World Reference Laboratory
Representations required to be made to the EU and the OIE
Veterinary Knowledge of Virology
Though I do not have access to a scientific library anymore, I have informed myself by consulting widely with Prof Fred Brown, Dr Paul Sutmoller, Dr Simon Barteling, Prof A Osterhus, Prof M Amadori, Dr Doel, Dr Paul Kitching and Dr K Sumption and reading articles.
Do the DEFRA vets or the vets in the field know what they should read or to whom they should turn to inform themselves? Are they even aware of or will they admit to their lack of knowledge? The most senior amongst them could have used the same sources as myself and then have passed information to the junior ranks but they did not do so. Communication is essential for the virologist in charge of providing the diagnostic service. Dr Alex Donaldson was I presume too busy to act as a source of communication during the outbreak. But I have not found him communicative even when the time and opportunity did permit, as at the recent European Conference on FMD in Brussels where I represented the European Landowners Association.
I have spoken to Dr Sheila Crispin who chairs the panel for postgraduate and further specialist training at the RCVS. The only further qualification that vets could do to gain specialist training in infectious diseases is a Public Health Diploma intended particularly for vets in MAFF / DEFRA but hardly anyone takes this qualification. Also I believe from my conversation with vets that they have little or patchy teaching on virology and vaccination as undergraduates.
During the early stages of the FMD epidemic Dr Noel Mowat offered to help educate MAFF officials and vets on FMD virology. Dr Mowat used to work at Pirbright and ran courses on FMD infection at Pirbright. His offer was refused.
Diagnosis and Testing and the role of Pirbright World Reference Laboratory for FMD
Several people in contact with the FMD infected animals developed illnesses resembling FMD. FMD is not considered a viral zoonosis but there are some reports of persons becoming infected with FMD with mild illnesses though few are substantiated by any laboratory evidence. Samples from potentially infected individuals were tested for infection in the containment level-4 laboratory at the Central Public Health Laboratory (CPHL) at Colindale by Dr Robin Gopal. Although requested to undertake this work on human specimens by MAFF, CPHL was, initially, not licensed for the growth and propagation of FMD in tissue culture and therefore, diagnosis was by PCR (the polymerase chain reaction), a modern molecular technique, to detect the possible presence of FMD virus in samples taken from the persons suspected of FMD infection. Virus isolation could not be attempted due to licensing restrictions. For PCR positive control material Dr Gopal was pointed in the direction of academic university sources who could supply him FMD nucleic acid. However, to rule out FMD infection (all the PCR tests were negative) serology was required on paired sera taken from suspected infected individuals. It took some months before a MAFF license was granted and Pirbright could release any FMD antigen and virus for Dr Gopal to run an ELISA and if required undertake confirmatory virus neutralisation, to test the human sera for antibody to FMD. This type of delay is wholly unacceptable.
It is fortunate that the epidemic strain of serotype O pan Asia does not infect man. There has been a recent outbreak of encephalitis in Malaysia caused by Nipah virus. This is a novel virus infection in humans and was acquired by persons in contact with pigs. Some of the pigs were ill, and the pigs had acquired Nipah virus infection from fruit bats. Obstruction in collaboration over the diagnosis of human infection could have serious consequences if it delayed the diagnosis of human illness. Mankind is endemically infected with many viruses in the same virus family (picornaviridae) as the FMD virus some of them occasionally causing serious or fatal disease such as myocarditis and encephalitis. It is by no means inconceivable that at some time in the future a strain of FMD might arise that can infect humans. Pirbright and MAFF / DEFRA also refused to accept samples non-MAFF vets had taken from in contact animals and refused to test any samples privately and to provide a second opinion on itself as it did not allow anyone else to provide it. Such an obstructive monopoly is clearly not good practice.
With regard to ELISA testing, I understand the protocol supplied by Pirbright to be un-modernised and not robust. For instance Pirbright were using hand washed ELISA plates. Indeed I heard from Mr Jim Scudamore that Pirbright only acquired automated ELISA technology in May 2001. Hand washing of test plates may have been appropriate and modern in 1967 when the same competitive blocking test was used but was decidedly out of date in 2001. Hand washing introduces a variable and generally there is greater intra- and inter-test variation. Though funding may have delimited the equipment at Pirbright, the failure to modernise is likely to arise from the outlook in the laboratory- Pirbright has an unchallenged monopoly on FMD work in both research and diagnosis in Britain.
Pirbright is the designated UK reference laboratory for exotic animal pathogens and also the World Reference Laboratory for FMD. The normal role of a reference laboratory is to provide control materials and facilitate the setting up of routine screening and diagnostic tests in other laboratories as clinically appropriate (as during a national epidemic for example). Another important role is the validation of diagnostic tests including commercial tests and publishing the results with the collaboration of the commercial companies. The reference laboratory acts as a fund of expertise and also receives difficult specimens.
Pirbright has confined itself to in-house tests, producing the materials and developing its own protocols. It has refused to undertake validation of commercial FMD tests such as those produced by Michael Walker at Genesis. There is no other laboratory in Britain that is allowed or could undertake to validate FMD tests - it is a breach of duty that this has been allowed to pass. In clinical diagnostic laboratories it is well recognised that it is difficult to produce and quality control in-house tests. Commercial companies are rather better at this than most laboratories could sustain, particularly in the present climate as ever greater work efficiency is required. The insistence on in-house tests and the refusal to share expertise and materials is typical of an institution guarding its research and exclusive status. Is it hoping to suppress competition to its own tests? Does it stand to financially benefit? The interest of the clients is not best served, and 'service' is the operative word, by such attitudes. A professional diagnostic service should be provided and that entails the use tests appropriate to the clinical need, such as a rapid sensitive test for the presence of virus that the PCR test provides.
The ministry and MAFF / DEFRA refused to collaborate with an independent UK laboratory, Micropathology Ltd, to allow it to develop a sensitive and real time PCR test for the epidemic FMD strain. Neither was competition allowed from within the veterinary science establishment in providing a PCR test so that an independent second opinion on the presence of FMD virus in any animal was denied.
On the 9th of March 2001, an offer of help came from the USDA collaborating with Tetracore to provide a sensitive real time PCR farmgate test and if required an experienced team to carry out the work. It had been successfully laboratory tested by the USDA and required validation in the field. Its convenient size, speed and simplicity of use was even demonstrated here on BBC television by Tetracore. But Pirbright turned down the offer on the grounds of lack of time. Seven months later Pirbright took the very same machine and started their own laboratory trials. Failing in the first instance to get good results, they went to press (The Veterinary Record 6 Oct 2001)* where they falsely claimed that Cepheid, the manufacturer of the PCR machine, had recommended and provided the wrong materials. Later in the same letter they triumphantly claim success by changing to those they would normally use - Cepheid do not provide or give advice on test materials. What is going on at Pirbright?
Tests that do not amplify infectious virus can be done in laboratories in less than the containment level-4 facilities that are required for amplification of FMD virus in tissue culture or in animal work. Virus must however be inactivated. This is normally done before antibody or antigen testing or doing a PCR test. Thus these tests could have been done more widely particularly during an epidemic of FMD. Latterly the ELISA screening test, only, was farmed out to other laboratories including CAMR at Porton Down. The safety standards of laboratories have greatly improved since 1967 and it therefore seems that a bottleneck of FMD testing at Pirbright was unnecessarily created.
The principle of taking samples from each possibly infected premises, and any contacts, enshrined in the EU guidelines 85/511 and in subsequent up-dates, was forgotten*. Even if at first the numbers overwhelmed the testing facilities the specimens should have been stored and tested later. The full extent of infection, or the lack of it, may now never be known. Clinical diagnosis of FMD in sheep is likely to be about 50% correct. Also infection in sheep and other animals can be asymptomatic and therefore not clinically recognisable. Thus laboratory diagnosis on samples obtained from clinically suspected cases and in contact farms are essential.
(1) What instructions were there to vets on sample taking?
(2) Was there any protocol to guide the vets in making a diagnosis based on the presence of virus in acute infection when antibody is not necessarily present?
The newly forming antibody detected after the viraemic stage of acute infection may be at a low level and not give a positive virus neutralisation test (VNT), a gap of several days during which the screening ELISA cannot be confirmed by VNT. VNT was the method used to confirm ELISA positive results. All ELISA tests, any test at all, can give rise to a false positive or a false negative result. So low positive ELISA test results that are not confirmed by VNT cannot be accepted as positives. If this is the only laboratory evidence of infection in a flock of sheep then infection is not proven in this flock.
The clinical practice of making a diagnosis of acute infection revolves about the detection of the infectious agent itself, rather than antibody. The presence of the agent precedes the production of antibody. The modern technique of PCR (used to detect the nucleic acid in an infectious agent or resulting from its replication in cells) is widely used in medicine and was thought good enough for the suspected human cases of FMD. However Pirbright resolutely refused to entertain PCR as the routine method of diagnosis of FMD in animals during the epidemic claiming PCR was not validated. They have been developing their own farm gate test for antigen (less sensitive than PCR especially in early infection) and continued developing laboratory based PCR, both in-house, during this FMD epidemic. They have not used either routinely to provide results during the epidemic. They have also insisted that they could not use an anti-NSP test, as it also was not validated. Antibody to non-structural virus proteins (NSP) enables vaccinated herds or flocks to be distinguished from infected ones. Again they use their own in-house test rather than validate any commercial anti-NSP tests, also offered them during this epidemic from UBI for example.
How much further on is the World Reference Laboratory with the validation of modern scientific tests now? Other countries are using these tests such as Korea in the FMD outbreak it had in 2000. The OIE, by its constitution very conservative as all 150 countries must agree on tests and their validation to introduce any changes, has not recognised tests such as PCR and anti-NSP. Has Pirbright validated any tests during this epidemic that other laboratories can turn to and use when they have an outbreak of FMD in their own country? Can it present any evidence for the validation of the PCR and anti-NSP tests to the OIE? What is the function of a World Reference Laboratory, other than documenting different isolates from epidemics of FMD round the world, if not to advance the detection of virus infection and management of FMD epidemics?
The test results were sent to Page Street, MAFF headquarters, and persons who had never worked in a laboratory, who did not understand the principles of detection of virus, antigen or antibody, interpreted the tests results, according to a protocol sheet issued by Pirbright. They will not show this protocol sheet to me. This must have led to mistakes. Such a practice is not acceptable in medicine. Combined with the fact that the results themselves were not given to the vets who went to the farms, nor to the farmers, but relayed by word of mouth, second, third and fourth hand . This constitutes poor clinical practice. In fact in many instances the local MAFF vet rang Page Street as they were constrained to do, to say the clinical diagnosis of FMD was uncertain or atypical. They were not necessarily advised to take samples, but simply instructed to kill. If the index premise was not in fact infected with FMD, then it and all the 'dangerous' contacts and contiguous premises, and possibly all those for 3km about, were unnecessarily and wrongfully culled out. When samples were taken and subsequent to the culling found to be negative, the index 'confirmed infected premise' has remained listed as such. This makes nonsense of virology. One might as well be back in medieval times, when the only possibility was clinical description.
Any farmer questioning the Page Street opinion or the diagnosis was brushed aside, unless they obtained the help of a solicitor. Vets working for MAFF were also treated in a high handed fashion, and not allowed to exercise their own clinical judgement or to question that of any of the Page Street officials. Persons expert in FMD from the UK, or in Europe and USA, outside DEFRA, Pirbright, or the Science Committee were not listened to. Their opinion was neither sought out nor heard when they shouted, metaphorically speaking. Vaccination was unfairly vilified by the officials and by the NFU. There was a complete lack of openness that is essential in my experience in dealing satisfactorily with outbreaks of infection. Panic and killing ruled all the days of the epidemic.
I would like to congratulate Dr Alex Donaldson on the timely and apt publishing of both the sequence of the VP1 gene of the epidemic strain and match with the Manisa type O vaccine and on the infectious characteristics of the epidemic strain of FMD, type O pan Asia, in pigs, cattle and sheep. Plumes of aerosolised FMD virus that could carry on the wind were thus not expected in our epidemic, unless large numbers of pigs were infected simultaneously which fortunately did not occur except at the Waugh's farm in Northumberland. The Science Committee, the modellers and Page Street disregarded Dr Donaldson's work. Also the modellers never published a 'normal vaccination' model at all - one where 100% of receptive domestic animals were vaccinated in a 2 or 3 Km ring about each infected premise without being killed afterwards. Such a model could be called a 'biological model', not an economic or other non-scientifically constrained model.
Representations required to be made to the EU and the OIE
It should be possible to use the best scientific methods of diagnosis and control of infection. Many changes need to be made so that this can be so in a future epidemic of FMD. Changes in OIE rules, European legislation particularly on vaccinated animals, but above all in our own Ministry and education of veterinarians in theunderstanding and use of vaccination. Vaccinated produce should be marketed quite normally without special treatment or labelling, as it is known to be safe.
None of the vets whom I spoke to, particularly the senior vets, understood the implications of control of the spread of an infectious disease by vaccination, as Jenner foresaw the eventual eradication of smallpox in the 18th century using the less than perfect smallpox vaccine. It seems easier and simpler to the veterinary profession to kill rather than to put into practice modern virology to control an epidemic* but as we have rediscovered this is not so nor is it acceptable when there is an effective vaccine. Education on vaccination and virology is essential especially for vets and epidemiologists with responsibility for infection control.
FMD would be an easy virus to transmit by a bio-terrorist. We have assumed someone bringing in meat products illegally, inadvertently introduced the FMD virus causing this epidemic. If we cannot establish exactly how this epidemic virus was brought into Britain then we can never be sure this was not a deliberate introduction. Future bioterrorism must also be more likely now. Everyone has seen how easily havoc was created, by managing FMD with a slaughter only policy, whilst stocks of
O Manisa vaccine languished unused, in the vaccine banks of the developed world. It is essential to
have vaccines ready, and the planning and determination to use them in place, to deter bioterrorism.
Other European countries do not want to imitate us. Holland is determined not to carry out such unnecessary slaughter again. The opinion of the FAO was also revealed at the European conference on FMD in December 2001. The FAO represents many under-developed countries and they have condemned our waste of perfectly good food.
Dr Ruth Watkins BSc Hons, BFA Oxon, MBBS, MSc, MRCP, MRCPath
Member of the FMD FORUM
1. Submission to the Royal Society enquiry
Setting up a diagnostic veterinary virology service by Dr Ruth Watkins
2. The Veterinary Record 6th October 2001
Letter Dr Donaldson et al - Evaluation of a portable, 'real time' PCR machine for FMD diagnosis.
3. Quotations from the debate on the 2nd reading Animal Health Bill in theHouse of Lords on 14th January 2002
Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer
The Countess of Mar
Submission to the Royal Society Enquiry into Infectious diseases in livestock
Dr Ruth Watkins MRCP MRCPath (Specialist in Clinical Virology)
Who should manage the national diagnostic service?
Who should undertake the actual diagnosis?
A cadre of specialists for the diagnosis of veterinary infections:
1. There should be a National Veterinary Diagnostic Service independent of DEFRA but with links to veterinary virus research.
2. I propose the provision of pathologists trained as specialists in the diagnosis of viruses, bacteria or parasites that cause veterinary infections.
3. Veterinarian pathologists are members of the Royal College of Pathologists. Such pathologists in virology and microbiology are an essential feature of human medicine world-wide and seem to be absent from veterinary medicine where research laboratories play a dual role of both research and diagnosis.
4. Diagnosis is not a research activity. There should be a separation of responsibility of diagnosis from research.
5. The provision of a diagnostic service is not a priority for academics and is in many ways incompatible with a successful career in research- it takes second place.
6. Rather than providing a service, research scientists may display a primary concern for research and in-house development of tests and a jealous guarding of exclusivity as I believe occurred in the FMD epidemic.
7. The provision of a diagnosis for clients is a service to the keepers of animals and their veterinarians.
8. The priority for a diagnostic pathologist trained as a specialist in virology is the correct identification of virus infection and it's management. They should be held to account for this service.
9. The diagnostic pathologist is based in a diagnostic laboratory and mediates directly between the science of virology and its application in the field to infected animals.
10. It is essential there are veterinarians in the field who are free to consult the diagnostic pathologist and act upon his or her professional advice without interference from the Ministry (MAFF or DEFRA).
The responsibilities of a diagnostic pathologist in veterinary virology should be:
A. To head-up a diagnostic virology laboratory and be accountable for the service.
B. Liaison with veterinarians to advise on differential diagnosis and the collection of appropriate specimens, the choice of tests and interpretation of test results, and advice on management e.g. treatment, vaccines, quarantine etc. Liaison includes field visits but mainly consists of being available on the telephone to answer any veterinarian's enquiry.
C. Issuing timely printed reports to the veterinarians looking after the animals concerned.
D. Education of veterinarians. Teaching diagnostic virology to veterinary students. Up-dating general veterinary virology as part of the continuing education of vets, whether in DEFRA or in private practice.
E. Quality control in the laboratory and validation of tests.
F. Written protocols for testing strategies and interpretation, also management and control of virus infections.
G. Audit of the laboratory testing and its application to the clientele.
H. Continuing education in advances in virology of all animal viruses and in the field of diagnosis. Training junior vets and scientists in veterinary virology.
I. A background in veterinary infectious diseases is essential.
How should individual animal diagnosis be linked to decision making?
11. Sampling and laboratory testing is essential in any protocol not only to diagnose infection but also to monitor vaccination.
12. Control of infection protocols should be drawn up and up-dated by the appropriate specialists in the National Veterinary Diagnostic Service in anticipation of an outbreak. For virus infections of pet, farm or wild animals a diagnostic veterinary virology pathologist should lead the team. Openness and full explanation should prevail.
13. A number of other specialists should be co-opted, with experience and expertise with the causative agent concerned drawing on persons in the field from around the world as necessary (this was necessary in the FMD epidemic). This would also correct any deficiency in experience in the UK, for example in vaccination against FMD.
14. The above, 12 13, should also occur when there is an epidemic of virus infection.
15. DEFRA should play the role for which its members are trained. DEFRA personnel are not trained in virology and should not therefore assume the role of both judge and jury for a virus infection.
16. DEFRA should be responsible for executing the plan (as is the NHS Hospital Executive in hospital infections).
17. DEFRA should be consulted at an early stage in the planning of infection protocols with regard to cost, practicality and resources required and is thus an necessary member of the team both at the planning stage and during an epidemic.
How good are existing techniques; what research is needed to improve them?
18. Modern molecular biology has lead to enormous improvements in diagnostic techniques, both for veterinary and human virus infections (it should not be forgotten that we are infected by similar or even the same viruses).
19. The scientific advances are matched by modern technology; robotics, bar code readers, automation and apparatus such as the light-cycler for real time PCR, all supported by the computer.
20. The most cost effective way to make these available is in large dedicated diagnostic laboratories, where they can be used for daily routine diagnosis of virus, bacteria and parasite infection as well as scaled up rapidly for an epidemic infection.
21. These were not brought to bear during the recent FMD epidemic; the testing was relatively slow and similar to that in 1967 except for the addition of an antigen ELISA test. Automation was introduced only after several months.
22. A laboratory should not confine itself to in-house test materials if this curtails the service it can offer. Testing several relevant commercially developed tests was blocked during this FMD epidemic.
23. As there is only one laboratory in the UK allowed to handle FMD virus, creating a monopoly, this amounts to obstruction. There should not be a bottleneck or monopoly on testing at one virology laboratory. Competition helps to improve service particularly during times of high demand such as an epidemic.
24. Commercial companies specialise in producing ELISA (enzyme linked immunosorbent assay) tests and should be made use of as appropriate for immediate scaling up in testing as required in an epidemic.
25. The National Veterinary Diagnostic Service should play a role in validating any commercial tests likely to be of use.
26. Quality control of commercially produced tests is at least as good as for in-house tests, for which there may be problems in scaling up both production and quality control.
27. Tests that do not amplify infectious virus can be used safely in normal laboratory containment facilities if virus in samples is inactivated initially (viz. HIV). Such tests include serology for antibody or antigen and molecular biology based testing such as PCR. These tests could be done on specimens received in a number of laboratories.
28. It is essential to have a reference laboratory to provide control materials and expertise e.g. for problematic specimens.
CONTROL IF AN OUTBREAK OCCURS
Do control procedures incorporate recent developments in science and technology?
29. The pathology specialist's training ensures that he or she is aware of the most recent developments in science and technology in that field.
30. It is inexcusable that PCR (the polymerase chain reaction) was not used routinely during the FMD epidemic as a rapid test to diagnose the presence of virus infection.
31. If government funding is the root cause of the poor diagnostic service offered in the FMD epidemic this should be addressed with urgency: a good diagnostic service is highly cost effective.
32. The diagnostic virologist can ensure the appropriate tests are used in the management of an outbreak or epidemic of virus infection.
33. Unless the appropriate specimens are taken, and analysed at a later date if not at the time, accurate data will not be available for analysis. Each specimen should be linked to clinical and epidemiological data.
MODELLING AND DISEASE SPREAD
What is the role of predictive modelling?
34. Modelling has no role in the acute management of an epidemic. Its use during this FMD epidemic lead to experimental methods of control that have not been verified because of insufficient independent accurate data.
35. IPs were plotted and matched with FMD model graphs in a highly unscientific way. Many IPs were not confirmed by the FMD laboratory*. Veterinary ethical issues and alternative strategies were passed over for no scientific reason.
36. Modelling has a role in post-epidemic analysis when the accurate virus diagnostic data have been collected linked with epidemiological information, in order to gain insight and inform management of the next epidemic in the future.
What precise evidence is needed to underpin the models?
37. See 33 above. Scientific evidence in the form of samples for the diagnostic virus laboratory must be collected.
38. Laboratory confirmation is required (not ministry say so down a telephone) of infected premises. Classical cases involving several animals in a herd of cattle may be sufficient for clinical confirmation in the field at the time but samples should not be omitted if only for later analysis.
39. Laboratory confirmation of spread to contiguous and dangerous contact premises should be sought in future.
40. A detailed knowledge of the spread of virus by independent data is needed to calculate parameters that modeller's use.
What roles do vaccination play?
41. Vaccination even with imperfect vaccines can achieve eradication of a virus from a population.
42. This is well known to the Imperial College modellers at least, who are authorities on modelling vaccination, yet they have never put this information into the public domain for FMD (e.g. vaccination of 100% animals receptive to FMD).
43. Both control of infection and eradication of virus can be modelled (without slaughtering vaccinated animals).
44. A balanced portrayal of the role of vaccination should be available for the public domain and sent out to farmers.
1. Quoted from second reading of the Animal Health Bill in the House of Lords.
14th January 2002
Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer:
Mr Scudamore, the chief veterinary officer, told the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee in another place on 31st October, in response to Question 23, that he did not know what proportion of the original suspect cases in which culling took place proved to be negative. He said:"We do not know because the problem we had at the height of the outbreak was that we were removing contiguous premises and not sampling them. We did not have the resources to do that".'
4 The Countess of Mar:
'To put it mildly, the Bill is widely disliked. It follows in the wake of what will probably go down in history as an appalling and unnecessary massacre of our farm stock. History shows that the foot and mouth disease research station at Pirbright was set up in 1924 as a result of criticism of the Ministry of Agriculture's "primitive slaughter policy". Nothing much seems to have changed in the intervening period. Despite the development of vaccines on the Continent in the 1930s and 1940s, the ministry refused to allow their use, preferring instead to slaughter thousands of animals in the major outbreaks that occurred in 1952 and 1967.
From the beginning of the recent outbreak it was clear that no one had learnt any lessons from the past when they embarked on the mass slaughter of so many animals, the majority of which, it seems, were healthy. It was not the largest outbreak in the world, but it was the one in which the most animals were killed.'