DEFRA INSISTS it is better placed to cope with another outbreak of foot-and-mouth as its practise run continues.

The government is running Exercise Hornbeam which is simulating days seven and eight of an outbreak.

The event which started on Tues (Jun 29) and continues on Wed (Jun 30) is examining the role vaccination would play in controlling the disease in any future outbreak.

The staged event is using about 350 DEFRA personnel – based in London and several regional offices – to provide a mock-up of a managed scenario.

The officials are working on the basis that a case has been discovered in Cheshire in sheep imported from another European member state.

But they are also working as if the disease has spread to the West Country, Lincs and Scotland by the evening of day six.

At a briefing on Tuesday, DEFRA said by that point in the outbreak it had “slaughtered” 17,400 animals which would be disposed of via rendering or incineration. 

At the same point during the 2001 outbreak there had only been six confirmed outbreaks and only 5,900 animals had been slaughtered.