7 November 2001
Virus tests on Northumbrian sheep

By Isabel Davies

TESTS are continuing on samples from a sheep in the Whitley Chapel area of Northumberland which tested positive for foot-and-mouth antibodies.

Rob Simpson, spokesman for the National Farmers Union in north-east, said he understood the animal was in a flock of around 150 animals.

But he had been led to believe that officials were less concerned about the case than they had been about one involving a cow in Rookthorpe, Durham.

Government officials confirmed on Wednesday (7 November) that final tests results from the Rookthrope cow had come back negative.

But until final results on the sheep are back, they face a difficult decision if the ministry wants to lift “blue-box” restrictions in the Allendale area.

Before the case arose, farmers in the area had been hoping the tight restrictions imposed in the blue box would be relaxed within days.

News that Form D restrictions have been lifted on a total of 373 farms in the county was a step in the right direction, said a local official.

Inspections and tests found no evidence of the disease on 182 farms in Allendale, 153 in Haydon Bridge and 38 around Huntstanworth.

Restrictions on animals, animal products and vehicles would therefore be relaxed, said the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

There have been no confirmed cases of foot-and-mouth disease in the UK since Sunday, 30 September.

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