11 September 2001
Scotland declared virus-free

By Shelley Wright, Scotland correspondent

SCOTLAND has been declared free of foot-and-mouth disease.

Final infected area restrictions were removed on Tuesday morning (11 September).

The move, announced by rural development minister Ross Finnie, coincides with the start of negotiations in Brussels to get the foot-and-mouth export ban lifted for the whole of Scotland.

It is now 102 days since the last case of the disease north of the border.

Scotlands chief vet, Leslie Gardner, will present the proposal to lift the export ban at a meeting of the EU Standing Veterinary Committee on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Mr Finnie said the removal of the last infected area restriction, around Annan in the Dumfries and Galloway region, was a significant step forward.

“Classing the whole of Scotland as disease-free also affords extra protection against the possibility of the disease being brought north into Scotland by breeding cattle, sheep or pigs,” he said.

It means that any breeding stock moving to Scotland can now come only from areas of England and Wales that also qualify as disease-free.

“Any such movement will be subject to stringent controls involving thorough biosecurity of all vehicles and personnel, veterinary inspections before transit takes place and movement only by designated routes,” said Mr Finnie.

But he rejected the demands of NFU Scotland to introduce statutory disinfectant centres on the main roads crossing the border.

Union president Jim Walker has insisted that Scotland is wide open to reinfection from England unless more is done to ensure that vehicles that have been on farms are cleaned and disinfected before they are allowed into Scotland.

Mr Finnie, however, said that a veterinary risk analysis had shown that there was no need for that.

Although the country has been declared disease-free, sheep in Dumfries and Galloway and the Borders will not be allowed to move from these counties for another fortnight, until results from the final round of blood tests confirm that there is no residual infection in any sheep flocks.

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