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A good Maff vet

(the significant opening item in Alan and Rosie's message for June 30th)

We start tonight with an intriguing message from Jo in Cornwall:

I've just had a long phone call from a local friend. They farm about 3 miles away. They had a horrible shock yesterday. I am writing this particularly for any farmers reading this. One of their bullocks was drooling and they checked it and there were blisters on its tongue.

They looked just like the blisters that MAFF has on its FMD brochures. Their hearts sank as they were sure it must be FMD. They were thinking of all their neighbours and all the farms in the area who were beginning to get back to normal. I can imagine how bad it felt.

They called the MAFF vet who came out straight away. She took one look and they could tell by her face that it probably was as bad as they feared. She told them it did look like it, but she would check all their animals. It took 4 hours (it isn't a large farm fortunately) of careful examination of all tongues and feet. There was only the one bullock and its tongue was blistered but also hard and swollen.

The vet decided that it was "wooden tongue"; (I haven't heard of it before).

She said there were lesions that were at least 2 days old, and that if it had been FMD it would have spread to the other cattle.

Our friends didn't sleep well last night, and were relieved to see in the morning that there were still no other cattle affected. But they were so thankful that the vet had been one who did not jump to conclusions (she is a farmer herself) and who had seen FMD and could tell it was not quite right.

They were also thankful that they had seen no symptons a day or so earlier before the tongue became swollen and hard. It would then have looked more like the earliest signs of FMD.

I wonder how many thousands of animals have died because they were examined by a vet who was going by MAFF's pictures?

Where the vet is certain of clinical diagnosis blood tests are often not taken. ENDS

We asked Michaela for more detail about wooden tongue:

Wooden tongue is caused by a bacterial infection, one of the actinobacilla. The consequence is a tongue that is inflexible. The animal cannot swallow and drools. It will loose condition, not being able to eat and while contagious not highly so. The bacteria enters the tongue via, cuts or grazes and is successfully treated with antibiotics and possibly anti-inflammatories, there should be no blisters, they are not a known symptom!

Regards
Michaela

# # #

This report on blood testing was copied to us from Jackie in Devon:

Dear Ms. Barribal,

W.r.t. your guidelines for DEFRA blood tests to help finally clear a sheep flock at the end of long term MAFF observation on Form D properties, sent via Alan & Rosie's e-mail of 13th June. We have a small suckler herd, and a flock of sheep which this year has grown to an unprecedented 58 including ewes, hogs & hoggets and their combined lambs. Today, we had our long awaited blood test. However, the New Zealand lady vet and her assistant, who was also an academic, answered my first question concerning their visits to other farms to take blood, by confirming that they do this every day, and in fact had collected blood yesterday. They consider themselves 'clean' since they only visit 'D' properties, take all the standard disinfecting precautions, and continue in this manner not because they are so instructed by DEFRA, but as conscientious professionals because they believe themselves to be 'clean'. We pointed out that our solicitor had informed us that they would only be considered 'clean' if they had not visited an other farm in the past three days. The vet and her assistant refuted this definition of 'clean', but offered if we insisted to go away.

This however, would effectively be to doubt their personal and professional integrity, not as an insistence on DEFRAs own rules. At the end of this debate, facing two very pleasant people, we gave way, but determined to let you know of the incident. Further, the following:
The samples are numbered according to a pre-numbered sticky label sheet.
On this label it was just possible to write the animal number from its ear tag.

There was no place for anything as long as the Holding Number on the phial label.

The polystyrene box into which the phials were placed could be and was marked with the DEFRA serial numbers (from - to), the Flock Number and the Holding Number. The outer cardboard box into which the polystyrene box was placed was again labelled as above, but also with our name and address. The above procedure I found to be acceptable, but am still concerned about daily blood sample visits from the veterinary teams. One further small piece of information - apparently, the laboratory(ies) are only just able to cope, so long as only small flocks such as ours are visited each day. ENDS

Diana who lives on the far side of our village telephoned today with the good news that her blood test results had just been confirmed as all negative. This comes 15 days after the samples were taken, so on this basis we should hear ourselves around Thursday of this week.

# # #

Useful pointer from Cilla:

Just in cast others don't know - the Channel 4 TV programme 'Dispatches' next Tuesday 3rd. July is called 'Outbreak - the True Story of Foot and Mouth ' (9pm)

quote from Radio Times - 'Dispatches has new evidence that the foot and mouth epidemic could have been brought under control from day one'

There is an information line tel. no. given as well 0870 400 2244 ENDS # # #

Here's something to cheer us up! Bryn has sent us a copy of his letter to Mrs Beckett as follows:

Phone / FAX / Answer : 01435 864937

To : The Rt.Hon. Margaret Beckett MP
Secretary of State for the Environment Food and Rural Affairs
Dept of the Environment Food and Rural Affairs
Noble House
17 Smith Square
London SW1P 3JR

Date : 29th June 2001

Subject : FMD - The VERY strong case for VACCINATION.

Dear Mrs Beckett,

I probably do not need to tell you that the current frenzy of slaughter of every hoofed animal within 3km and contiguous to an IP did NOT stop on the 7th June 2001 as confidently predicted by one of the currently employed "scientific advisors" - the Michael (What Hurricane) Fish of the FMD world.

The perfect time to VACCINATE has long since passed, but not the opportunity to START; given that VACCINATION has worked for decades in countries more dependent on their beef/meat exports than the UK (Brazil, Uruguay to name but two). That we IMPORTED in excess of 71,662 tonnes of VACCINATED meat from South America (43,304 tonnes of "Corned Beef" from Brazil) to year end Aug 2000, gives you proof the British have no fear of vaccinated meat. Ref. www.bsereview.org.uk/data/uk_imports2.htm

It is obscene that the taxpayer is having to pay in excess of #20 BILLION to fund a FMD policy that will never work; unless total annihilation of the British herd/flock is the object of the exercise. The cost/benefit of protecting a tiny export trade (with a Free from FMD status) and a seriously expensive non-vaccination policy are blatantly obvious by now, even to the casual observer.

If less economically astute countries in South America can include VACCINATION as an FMD control measure, then there are no reasonable grounds, by whatever measure, for the UK NOT to vaccinate. At 50 pence a 'shot' it will return the UK to that Free of FMD status so highly regarded by some, and remove the "medieval" label that is emblazoned on the front door of DEFRA. Your government nearly made the correct decision earlier, but the NFU made Mr Blair change his mind - a union that only holds sway with 29% of registered UK farmers. Not too democratic, nor above board. Being dictated to by Unions is not to be recommended.

The Unions in South America did not need to tell their government the sensible thing is to vaccinate.

Translation of information received on 20 June 2001 from Dr Bernardo Gabriel Cani, President, National Service for Agrifood Health and Quality (SENASA), Secretariat for Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Food, Buenos Aires:

End of previous report period: 9 June 2001 (see Disease Information, 14 [24], 148, dated 15 June 2001).

End of this report period: 16 June 2001.

New outbreaks: during the week from 10 to 16 June 2001, a total of 103 outbreaks of foot and mouth disease were confirmed clinically and by laboratory tests in cattle in various districts and departments in provinces of Argentina.

Total number of outbreaks confirmed up to 16 June 2001: 1,351.

Affected animals: the number of affected animals is 7,604, 64 pigs and 6 sheep, out of 121,286 animals exposed to the risk of infection. The category most affected is heifers.

Location of the outbreaks: 79% of the outbreaks occurred in Buenos Aires province, 7% in Entre Rios province and 6% in Santa Fe province.

Control measures: the main strategies are applied through vaccination and movement control. Measures for transit control provided for in the regulations in force are being implemented. The first vaccination round against foot and mouth disease is due to be completed at the end of June. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------- ---------------------------------------------------

Whilst you continue to be misled by your present scientific advisers, I would suggest it would be wise to seek solid, more reliable, higher qualified scientific advice from outside these islands.

Professor Fred Brown knows more about FMD than anyone else on the planet !

Then there is always ,

Dr. Paul Sutmoller; tel. 0031252371369 e-mail:paulsutmoller@compuserve.com

Dr. Simon Barteling: tel. 0031206207688 e-mail: simbar@scarlet.nl

It is unacceptable to continue the unhindered and barbaric extermination of our sheep and cattle, causing more problems than the FMD ever presented in the first place. The monetary scale, not to mention the appalling human tragedies, cannot be a sensible policy for the 4th richest economy in the world to adhere to with a fetish.

VACCINATION will stop all your self induced errors in this FMD crisis quicker than the continuing uncontained failures. It will also help minimise the political blunders (release of toxins via the funeral pyres) quicker than the medieval and heavily criticised gluttony of slaughter of healthy animals.

With your background in metallurgy, you will know a metal will only take so much stress and strain before it reaches its "Elastic Limit". I put it to you, the UK farming industry is almost at its "Elastic Limit" and VACCINATION will save this industry from a "fatigue failure" which would not be in the best interests of our country, nor your conscience Mrs Beckett.

Yours sincerely,

B.R.Wayt Captain BA (Rtd)

Also from Bryn a final reminder about tomorrow:

Please try and attend.........

National Foot and Mouth Group Meeting

On - Sunday 1st July 2001 -

At

The Britannia Hotel - Wolverhampton

at 2.30 pm Refreshments Available!

(The hotel is easy to find and directions are as follows: From the NORTH - M6 and take exit 12 turn right on to A5 then left on A449 and follow on into Wolverhampton town centre. Hotel is next to the Grand Theatre and is signposted. From the SOUTH - M1 on to M6 then take exit 10 and the A463 and A454 to Wolverhampton town centre, then as above. From the SOUTH WEST - M5 and take exit 2 through Dudley and into Wolverhampton town centre, then as above. From the WEST - Make for M54 and off at exit 3 and follow A41 to town centre then, as above. From EAST - Make for M6 and follow as if coming from the South of England.)

For everyone interested in stopping the slaughter of healthy animals Please do try to come!

for further details please contact

Tony York (Tony the Troubleshooter) of Pig Paradise Farm - Tel: 07967 581805 or email tonyyork@pigparadise.com or Val Sinclair - Tel: 01691 662388 or 07721416739 or Julia Currie - Tel: 01453 764376 or 07977215715

Please contact Tony either way, whether you can make it or not. He needs to get an idea of numbers for those who ARE going and he wishes to put up an "apologies for absence" board for those who ARE NOT. The media will be attending, so we really need AS MANY PEOPLE AS POSSIBLE, either in the flesh or on the "apologies" board. This promises to be a big event, with people coming from all over the country.

PLEASE VISIT: http://www.farmtalking.com http://www.sheepdrove.com/ http://www.heartofbritain.com/ http://www.whatareweswallowing.freeserve.co.uk/footandmouthenter.htm http://www.cullmaff.com/ http://www.warmwell.com http://www.silentmajority.co.uk/FootinMouth/index.html http://www.footandmouthdoc.com http://www.independenceuk.org.uk/index.html # # #

From the BBC Wales website:

A third case of foot-and-mouth disease within a week has been identified at a farm near Libanus in Powys, mid Wales.

The latest outbreak is in sheep at Twyn-Neuadd farm in Modrydd near Brecon and brings the total number of cases in Wales to 95 , 59 of which have been in Powys.

Crisis in Wales
Total confirmed cases UK-wide 1,790 - with 95 in Wales
Powys - 59 cases
Anglesey - 13 cases
Monmouthshire - 16 cases
Caerphilly 2
Rhondda Cynon Taff - 1
Neath Port Talbot -1
Newport - 3

It follows a case in Libanus last weekend which was the first confirmed sign of the virus in Wales for almost a month and dashed hopes that the initial outbreak had been contained.

Although positive blood test results were only confirmed on Friday the sheep on Twyn Neuadd farm were slaughtered last Monday.

They were part of a contiguous cull in the area which involve more than 5,000 animals - to eliminate any dangerous contacts

All three farms where the disease has been identified are in the foothills of the Brecon Beacons - where up to 10,000 sheep graze on common land.

Restrictions are still in place in Powys

There is concern that the virus may have transferred onto to the hills - where it would be difficult to stop the spread of foot-and-mouth.

Vets are continuing to check animals on farms in the area for signs of the disease.

They will also be investigating what contacts the farmer in this latest outbreak has had with other farms in Wales.

Pen-y-Fan, which is the highest peak in the Brecon Beacons, had reopened to the public just a week before the new outbreak and was immediately closed again after the cases were confirmed.

Ashes removed

Meanwhile earlier this week it was confirmed that work will begin soon to remove ashes from a slaughter pyre on the army training ranges at Epynt in mid Wales.

Forty thousand animals were disposed of there during the height of the four-month crisis despite protests from local farmers and people.

The National Assembly has confirmed that work will start soon on cleaning up the ashes from a huge pyre on the Epynt ranges where the carcasses of 40,000 animals were burnt.

But a month after the last animals were taken there, the pyre is still too hot and needs to be cooled before work can begin.

ENDS

And from the BBC Devon website:

Single sheep culled after positive test...

A single sheep has been culled by the Rural Affairs Ministry, Defra, at a farm near Holsworthy following foot- and-mouth blood tests.

The rest of the flock were also tested, but escaped slaughter because they showed no signs of foot-and-mouth antibodies. The infected sheep alone showed the antibodies in two blood tests which were taken before it was culled. A Defra spokesman said that it was a very rare occurence. ENDS

Our comment: We are "near Holsworthy" too so are wondering where this sheep was located. At least DEFRA followed their agreed procedure by the sound of it, taking second blood samples before slaughtering the individual animal but not the flock.

from Alan & Rosie