12 March 2001
Wider cull to fight foot-and-mouth?

By Alistair Driver and Donald MacPhail

MORE livestock could be culled as agriculture minister Nick Brown responds to mounting criticism over his handling of the foot-and-mouth crisis.

Nine new cases of the disease have been announced, taking the total number of outbreaks to 173 at 1300hrs on Monday (12 March).

Three outbreaks of the disease were recorded in Cumbria, with single cases in six other counties, according to the Ministry of Agriculture (MAFF).

The Cumbrian cases were confirmed at Wigton, Huddon and Holme Cot.

The other cases were in Lancashire, Staffordshire, Wiltshire, Herefordshire, Devon, and Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland.

A total of 155,000 animals have been earmarked for slaughter, of which 116,000 have been culled, according to MAFF figures.

Mr Brown acknowledged that more cases would be confirmed in the coming days, but repeated earlier assertions that the disease is under control.

“There is a lot of disease incubating; all we can do is control it.”

Mr Brown told journalists: “Movement restrictions have controlled a lot of the infection and then there has been quarantine and slaughter.”

The minister said it would be a long haul before the crisis was over. But he rejected suggestions that the number of outbreaks had reached epidemic levels.

Mr Brown said he was considering whether additional culls of livestock around infected farms would help efforts to control the disease.

At the moment, animals are only killed on infected holdings, and nearby farms which have been designated as “dangerous contacts”.

However, some farmers believe mandatory culling should be introduced for all livestock within a certain distance of any confirmed outbreak.

They believe that such a policy would stop the disease spreading laterally.

Mr Brown said he was also looking at a mix of options to deal with lambs born in areas under livestock movement restrictions.

About 500,000 lambs are expected to be born over the coming weeks. Those animals can only be moved a very short distance under special licences.

Chief Veterinary Officer Jim Scudamore said there was a conflict between animal welfare and controlling foot-and-mouth.

But controlling the outbreak was definitely the priority, he added.

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