Virus warning against illegal moves

11 October 2001

Virus warning against illegal moves

By Alistair Driver

THE governments chief scientist has warned that the foot-and-mouth epidemic could flare up again if farmers illegally move livestock.

David King was addressing a National Farmers Union Council meeting in London on Thursday (11 October).

He welcomed news that there have been no new outbreaks for 10 days, but gave a stark warning that farmers must not become complacent.

“I will not say that the epidemic is finished until there have been no cases for three months,” said Prof King.

A resurgence of the disease earlier this year almost certainly happened because the public and farmers relaxed their guard, he added.

Prof King said he was urging farmers to maintain cautious and not move livestock illegally, rather than trying to blame them.

But NFU Livestock Committee chairman Les Armstrong said many farmers were at breaking point because of livestock movement restrictions.

In many cases, breeding stock could not be moved. This would have enormous consequences, leaving farmers without animals to sell, he said.

Nottinghamshire council delegate Richard Gadd said the movement licensing system was in chaos.

Many farmers had been unable to get movement licenses, he said.

Prof King responded by indicating that movement restrictions may be eased in the future, but not if doing so risked further spread of foot-and-mouth.

“If there are illegal movements, we will be back to square one,” he said.


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