Vets wrong on one-third of animals (foot and mouth) : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Friday May 11, 12:08 PM Vets wrong on one-third of animals By Patrick Sawer FOOT-AND-MOUTH: 1,579 CASES

Nearly a third of animals initially diagnosed with foot-and-mouth, later proved to be clear of the disease, it was admitted today.

It means thousands of animals could have been slaughtered unnecessarily. The pre-emptive cull of animals on farms neighbouring outbreaks could also have been over-zealous.

The Ministry of Agriculture has admitted that nearly 30per cent of cases confirmed by vets in the field - around 450 of the 1,579 so far confirmed - later proved negative when blood tests were carried out at the Institute of Animal Health at Pirbright, Surrey.

To make matters worse, of the 250 cases where animals were slaughtered on suspicion of having the disease only 46 cases (18.4 per cent) were later confirmed positive by laboratory tests.

Dr Alex Donaldson of the Institute called the culls a "blunderbuss approach".

The results will be a blow to many farmers whose lifetime's work was destroyed. The mistakes will also have cost the taxpayer millions of pounds in compensation payments to farmers.

British Veterinary Association senior vice president, Andrew Scott, said vets may have made mistakes because most had not seen a case of foot-and-mouth disease before. He added: "Once the decision not to vaccinate had been taken, when we were running at 40 cases a day and the accent was on getting animals killed quickly, the only way was to kill and then see where you were afterwards."

MAFF today defended its policy of slaughtering on the diagnosis of vets rather than waiting for test results, claiming speed was of the essence.

It also said that negative results did not necessarily mean foot-and-mouth was not present on the farms, as it could have been in the stage where the virus did not show up in tests.

A study by the Pirbright Institute has also found that the basis on which the culling of animals on neighbouring farms was ordered was mistaken.

Epidemiologists recommended killing all animals within a three-kilo-metre radius after they concluded that the disease was spreading rapidly by air. However, the Institute found that the British strain gives off only small amounts of the airborne virus and that animals are unlikely to spread the virus by air unless hundreds have early symptoms.

-- Earthmama (, May 11, 2001


This seems to be a bit of 'Monday morning quarterbacking'. Britian wasn't prepare for a new outbreak and dealt with the situation as best they could, and now seem to have it under control.

When I was interviewed for a Management Intern position with the Air Force I was asked this question: "What would you do if you made a decision which cost the Air Force $1 million?" My reply was if I made the right decision at the time based on the information available to be, then it wasn't a bad decision. I would, of course, have to go back and review the situation to see if there was information I missed or misintrepreted. Seems like the same situation. They made a decision based on available information and are now in the review process.

Yes, this has been a tramatic experience for individual farmers, but the overall livestock industry has survived virtually intact. Less than two percent of their livestock has been sacrificed. If nothing else, their experience has been a case study for what to do or not do if/when F&MD comes to the U.S. again.

-- Ken S. in WC TN (, May 13, 2001.

Oh Ken, how I wish it were that all could be as honorable as you, for then I too could believe that decisions were made based on the noble values you believe they were.


-- Earthmama (, May 13, 2001.

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