Probe into farm virus resurgence

28 August 2001

Probe into farm virus resurgence

By Isabel Davies

INVESTIGATIONS are continuing in a bid to discover how foot-and-mouth disease has re-emerged around Allendale in Northumberland.

Government officials in Newcastle said they have ruled out a theory that the outbreak has been caused by livestock moving through Hexham market.

But they are still looking for an explanation for the diseases resurgence after a gap of three months. Until last week, the last case in the area was on 22 May.

There have been 11 new outbreaks in the area within the past week.

Tighter biosecurity measures came into force in Northumberland over the weekend in an area covering about 400 square miles.

A block on all animal movements has been introduced and farmers have been told they must improve disinfection of all vehicles and workers.

Possibile reasons for the disease re-emerging include low-level infection which suddenly flared up or shooting parties walking across the countryside.

The possible consequences of the re-appearance of the disease in Northumberland are dealt with at length by Britains newspapers.

Farmers fear the government will cull sheep and cattle along the length of the Ellen valley in order to create a firebreak, reports The Times.

National Farmers Union livestock delegate Gordon Meek told the paper that the outlook for the whole valley was very bleak.

Farmers are obviously very shocked and worried, he said.

I know a lot of them will be frightened to go out and look at their animals in the morning for fear of what they might find.

According to The Guardian the disease could put a stop to Scotlands attempts to resume meat exports if the outbreaks spread further north.

The cases are less than 50 miles away from Scotland and four farms in the borders have been classified as dangerous contacts.

Scottish farmers are hoping to apply for export licences on Thursday (30 August) when Scotland will have been three months clear of the disease.

But a resumption of livestock and meat exports would be automatically delayed by at least three months if the disease re-appears in Scotland.

The Daily Mail reports that farmers want the countryside closed.

Producers believe that the latest resurgence has been triggered by a hidden well of the disease in the national sheep flock, reports the paper.

And they suspect that the problem is a consequence of footpaths being re-opened and people encouraged back into the countryside.

But the Daily Express says farmers are on a collision course with the tourism industry which is desperate to keep visitors coming into rural areas.

It quotes an Exmoor farmer, who relies on income from his cottages and campsite, as saying that further action should not be taken.

We only have two weeks of the main season to go. Lets wait until then before thinking about restrictions, he said.


CLICK HERE to receive FWis FREE new daily email newsletter to keep up-to-date with the latest news of foot-and-mouth and other farming-related stories

Foot-and-mouth – confirmed outbreaks

Foot-and-mouth – FWi coverage

See more