12 March 2001
Farmers accused of spreading disease

By FWi staff

FARMERS could be spreading foot-and-mouth disease by ignoring advice to stay at home, the governments chief veterinary officer has warned.

Jim Scudamore said he was concerned that some new cases of the disease in infected areas were the result of farmers visiting neighbouring farmers.

Farmers who believe their farm is disease-free could be unwittingly passing it on to neighbours they visit, he said.

“There is anecdotal evidence that people going from one farm to another are spreading the disease,” Mr Scudamore said on Monday (12 March).

Mr Scudamore said he was concerned about the consequences of an outbreak at a pig farm near Winkleigh, Devon, confirmed on Sunday (11 March).

All 700 pigs on the unit have already been slaughtered amid fears that the virus could infect livestock for miles around.

“If the weather is right and the number of pigs is right it can go a long way, possibly 50km,” said Mr Scudamore.

Experts are now waiting for a weather report to establish the areas in the vicinity of the farm most at risk from airborne infection.

But the blanket slaughter of all local livestock is not under consideration.

Culling livestock on farms near the infected premises would be considered on a case-by-case basis, said Mr Scudamore.

Agriculture minister Nick Brown agreed there had been lapses in movement controls, saying: “It is absolutely vital that people stick to the rules.”

As the number of outbreaks climbed to 181, Mr Brown said there was an “enormous amount of disease incubating in the national flock”.

But movement controls, backed up by quarantine and slaughter on infected farms, are preventing much wider spread, he claimed.

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