11 May 2001
Two in three culls needless?

By FWi staff

ALMOST one-third of Britains confirmed cases of foot-and-mouth showed up as negative in tests by the worlds leading laboratory into the disease.

About 450 of 1573 cases confirmed by vets in the field were been supported by test results at the Pirbright laboratory in Surrey, it has emerged.

The revelation was made by Channel Four News on Thursday (10 May).

It raises the possibility that thousands of animals may have been needlessly slaughtered at a vast cost to farmers and taxpayers.

Of 250 cases where animals were slaughtered on suspicion of having the disease only 46 equivalent to 18.4% – were confirmed by the tests.

British Veterinary Association senior vice-president Andrew Scott told Channel Four News that most vets had not seen foot-and-mouth case before.

“As the disease progressed and more experienced veterinary surgeons were recruited into the system then diagnosis probably became more accurate.”

The Ministry of Agriculture said waiting for test results to come through before taking action would have risked not bringing the outbreak under control.

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