18 May 2001
Caution greets ‘disease-free’ day

By FWi staff

FARMERS representatives have given a cautious welcome to news of the first day with no new cases of foot-and-mouth since the epidemic began.

The Ministry of Agriculture confirmed that, for the 24-hour period up to 7pm on Thursday (17 May), there were no fresh outbreaks of the disease.

This is the first time this has happened since the epidemic began 87 days ago.

But the National Farmers Union refused to be carried away by this news, cautioning producers to remain vigilant to prevent new outbreaks.

“Obviously we welcome the news, but there is still some way to go before we can say were out of the woods yet,” said a spokeswoman.

Confirmation that the disease has been eradicated will not come until three months after the last case is reported, said the spokeswoman.

The current total of confirmed cases remains at 1603 in Britain with four confirmed cases in Northern Ireland.

However, it is thought that the zero figure could be caused by a blip in processing data and that there could be a number of new cases in days to come.

At the height of the crisis, 50 new cases of foot-and-mouth were being reported each day.

So far, 2,858,000 animals have been slaughtered or identified as being for slaughter. Of the 2,768,000 animals killed, 36,000 remain to be disposed of.

To date, 451,000 cattle, 2,198,000 sheep, 118,000 pigs, 2000 goats have been culled.

Meanwhile, The Times reports that vast pits excavated in Devon to take millions of livestock carcasses will probable never be used.

MAFF said the slowdown of the epidemic meant the three 100ft by 250ft pits designed to take 250,000 sheep carcasses will not be needed.

The project at Ash Moor, near Hatherleigh, cost millions of pounds, and was opposed by locals who feared water could be contaminated.

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