2 January 2002
Virus fear ‘returns to north-east’

By FWi staff

REASSURANCES over 2100 sheep which were culled as a precaution against foot-and-mouth disease have fallen on deaf ears, reports the Guardian.

The prize flock of sheep were from Donkleywood farm, Northumberland – the only county yet to be declared free from the disease.

Officials at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs have insisted that the cull was not a new outbreak.

“There is no evidence of active disease at present,” said Keith Raine, director of the Disease Emergency Control Centre in Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

“What we have found is exposure to the disease at some point in the past, so we are slaughtering the flock as a precaution.”

Such reassurance, however, fuels more speculation, reports the Guardian.

The national Foot-and-Mouth Group, comprising vets and countryside campaigners, claims that secret culling is still taking place.

Since the last official outbreak, near Appleby, Cumbria, on September 30, Defra slaughter figures have risen by 113,395 nationally, it says.

But ministers and the National Farmers Union have dismissed talk of a conspiracy.

Foot-and-mouth – confirmed outbreaks
Foot-and-mouth – FWi coverage
Recovery plan – Full coverage