Third farm cleared of foot and mouth but Pirbright is ‘very likely’ source of virus

Tests on a third farm suspected of foot and mouth disease have revealed the farm is clear of infection.  The farm near Dorking, Surrey belongs to Laurence Matthews. 

Cattle grazing land near Pirbright farmerd by Mr Matthews were confirmed with foot and mouth disease on Tuesday – although they were not his cattle. 

He called DEFRA as a precaution after several of his animals demonstrated signs of poor health, but tests have confirmed the animals are not suffering from foot and mouth disease. 

David Fursdon, president of the Country Land and Business Association expressed relief on hearing the news.

“This latest news will come as a huge relief to worried farmers who are more than aware how fast such a virulent disease can spread. The CLA is advising farmers and land managers to remain extremely vigilant, this action combined with biosecurity measures remains absolutely paramount for early containment of the disease.

“With the lengthy incubation period of up to fourteen days for FMD, new cases will not necessarily be a surprise but we still have every hope that the outbreak can remain localised.”

The CLA is part of the daily bird table talks with DEFRA and has worked with them at every stage of the disease. “We will be updating our members as the situation develops,” concluded Mr Fursdon.

Meanwhile, the chief veterinary officer has conceded that Pirbright is almost certainly the source of the recent outbreak of foot and mouth virus. 

In a press briefing on Friday (10 August) Debby Reynolds, chief vet, said an initial epidemiology report conducted by DEFRA concludes that Pirbright is “very likely” to be the source of the recent outbreak.

Dr Reynolds also said vaccination remains a possible measure, if the situation demands.

“Vaccination teams are in place if needed,” she said.  A decision whether or not to vaccinate would depend on how the situation develops.”

She also played down concerns of a further outbreak linked to the Pirbright site.

“It is unlikely that Pirbright will be the source of any further infections, but secondary spread from infected premises remains a possibility,” she said.

For further updates on foot and mouth, see our special report

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