8 March 2001
Crisis ‘far from over’ – chief vet

By Alistair Driver

HOPES that the foot-and-mouth outbreak was reaching its peak have been dashed by the countrys top vet.

Chief Veterinary Officer Jim Scudamore has warned that the crisis is far from over and that it is unlikely that numbers of new confirmed cases will fall next week.

“I cant predict where this will go or where it will end,” said Mr Scudamore at a briefing on Thursday (08 March).

Previously, Mr Scudamore had expressed hopes that numbers would drop after the weekend, when most cases originating from Hexham market should have shown.

The strain of foot-and-mouth in the outbreak has a two-week incubation period and movement restrictions have been in place since 23 February.

But the number of confirmed cases of the disease in the UK stood at 104 by Thursday (08 March) lunchtime.

Fifteen outbreaks were confirmed on Wednesday, including four in previously unaffected counties. Another eight were added on Thursday morning,

Mr Scudamore said these figures could be partly explained by sheep – in which the disease is more difficult to detect – which had not been traced.

These animals passed the virus on to cattle on their own farm and livestock on neighbouring farms, said Mr Scudamore.

The Ministry of Agriculture has urged sheep farmers to look out for signs of the disease in their livestock.

Classic symptoms include unexpected deaths of lambs, lameness, listlessness and loss of appetite.

Sheep sold at Hexham market, Northumberland, and moved to Longtown market in Cumbria set off the chain of infection when they were bought by a Devon livestock dealer.

Foot-and-mouth – confirmed outbreaks
Foot-and-mouth – FWi coverage