9 March 2001

Vets hopeful of F&Mdecline

MAFF vets are hoping to see a significant fall in the number of confirmed foot-and-mouth outbreaks over the next week.

As FW went to press the number of confimed cases approached 100. There were still about 140 premises under Form A awaiting test results.

But MAFF chief vet Jim Scudamore said he expects the number of confirmed cases to start falling after the weekend.

He said the majority of confirmed outbreaks were in sheep that picked the disease up at markets before movement restrictions were imposed on February 23.

Sheep sold at Hexham market, Northumberland, on Feb 13, and moved to Longtown market, Carlisle, set off a chain of infection when they were bought by Devon livestock dealer William Cleave.

Mr Scudamore said the incubation period for this strain of disease is usually no more than 14 days.

"Hopefully there will be no more infections from this route after about March 7-10. But it is still possible there will be other types of infection," he said.

MAFF have linked infected vehicles to at least five of the outbreaks.

Epidemiologists have traced the majority of confirmed infections to other outbreaks. A notable exception, however, is an outbreak on a cattle and sheep farm adjoining open common land on Dartmoor, in Devon.

Farm animals grazing on common land close to the farm run by Roger and Marion Winsor have been deemed "dangerous contacts" and will be culled. Ministry officials were also deciding if wildlife.

posed a threat of spreading the disease on the common and should be killed.

Towering flames lit up the dawn sky as pyres burned across the country in a week when Tony Blair spoke of a new relationship between farming and government.