Keep up your guard against infection, warns chief vet

DEFRA officials are warning farmers to maintain vigilance for signs of foot-and-mouth disease and to continue with strict biosecurity measures.

Chief veterinary officer Debby Reynolds said she was concered that farmers would drop their guard presuming that, with no new cases announced, the crisis was all but over.

“Vigilance and compliance with the new and existing rules are of critical importance,” she said. “Failure by anyone to do this puts at risk both the timetable and our ability to return to normality.”

Anecdotal evidence suggests her fears could be well-founded, with input suppliers in parts of the country reporting farms with little or no disinfection facilities in place for vehicles or tradesmen.

Contributors to Farmers Weekly’s website forum FWiSpace were also asked whether they felt biosecurity was being taken seriously and some responded with evidence to suggest it was not.

One questioned the benefit of foot-dipping, while another had bought disinfectant, but not yet used it.

Common Biosecurity Mistakes

  • Footbaths – Should be refreshed at least once a day or they could end up harbouring infection, rather than preventing it.
  • Cleaning – Disinfectants won’t work if dirt is present. Clean all footwear and vehicles before disinfection.
  • Disinfectants – Buy the right product for the job – use it at the correct concentration.
  • Disinfectant pads – Straw or carpet mats soaked in disinfectant may not be enough. Use a footbath/drive-through wash/high pressure sprayer for best results.
  • What’s your view on biosecurity? Have your say at FWiSpace and vote on the FWi Question of the Week.