Ministry mystified by Settle outbreaks

16 May 2001

Ministry mystified by Settle outbreaks

By Alistair Driver

FARMERS have been warned to be vigilant after the Ministry of Agriculture failed to trace the source of seven foot-and-mouth outbreaks in North Yorkshire.

Dr Stephen Hunter, a ministry official, said he was still looking at a number of potential sources that sparked infection at seven premises in the Settle area.

“One line of investigation is whether humans or livestock on one or more of the infected premises had come into contact with another infected area.”

It is essential that farmers continue to take all necessary measures to protect their stock, said Dr Hunter, based at the Yorkshire regional disease control centre.

His warning follow comments by a leading government foot-and-mouth adviser questioning the scientific basis for the foot-and-mouth cull programme.

Meanwhile, the head of the Pirbright Laboratory at the Institute for Animal Health said the airborne spread of the virus may have been overestimated.

Dr Alex Donaldson said it was unlikely sheep and cattle would transmit the virus more than 1km. In many cases it would only be 200m, he added.

The governments culling policy that in some cases stretched to 3km from infected premises may, therefore, be “over the top”, he said.

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