22 June 2001

Detection difficulty clear

THE difficulty of detecting foot-and-mouth disease in sheep was highlighted this week on a Devon farm which has been under Form D restrictions since the first outbreak in the county.

Despite regular inspections by vets, F&M was not suspected until recent blood tests showed 80% of the samples positive for antibodies to the disease. Throat samples were then taken, which showed the presence of live virus.

The farm – Clapperdown, at Bondleigh near North Tawton – became the countys 173rd confirmed case on Monday.

The sheep had been inspected by vets only a week before the blood samples were taken. As the south-west NFU pointed out in its daily F&M bulletin: "Clearly if the MAFF vets were unable to spot the disease, the farmer could hardly have been expected to. The case highlights how much undetected disease may still be lying latent in sheep flocks across the region."