US disease detector too cumbersome

25 April 2001

US disease detector too cumbersome

By FWi staff

CHIEF veterinary officer Jim Scudamore rejected the offer of an American machine to detect foot-and-mouth disease because it was too cumbersome.

Giving evidence to the House of Commons Agricultural Select Committee, Mr Scudamore said using the machine would have been impractical in the field.

The US Department of Agriculture offered the machine to Britain last month as the foot-and-mouth epidemic was about to peak, it has emerged.

Fred Brown, a scientist from the USDA Plum Island Animal Disease Centre, claims the machine could have saved hundreds of thousands of animals.

But Mr Scudamore told MPs on Wednesday (25 April) that the Americans offered the machine because it they wanted to see whether it was effective.

His claim was supported by chief scientist David King who told MPs that using the machine on different farms could have spread foot-and-mouth.

There were concerns that the effectiveness of the machine had not been proven and it might lead to cross contamination of livestock, he said.

Professor Alex Donaldson head of epidemiology Britains Institute of Animal Health, said equipment would normally be validated before it was taken on.

He said: “We had no data and no proof that the machine has been validated.. Its not clear what would happen to the machine once it has been used on a farm.”


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