FOOT - and - MOUTH DISEASE
Is it over yet?
We now have the
Toney Blair can kill your Cat Bill.
Or Animal Health (Death) Bill
Our government is attempting to force through a bill which would make slaughter mandatory - no argument, no legal challenges, no hope of reprieve. Elliot Morley has said that farmers that resisted the cull had caused increased spread of disease, prolonging the epidemic and increasing the overall slaughter total. An outright lie of course. This is Not just for Foot and Mouth and relates to all animals. Defra would become accuser, judge, jury & executioner. Please all sign & widely publicise the new petition arranged by Janet George at http://www.petitiononline.com/CAN1/petition.html
Visit the Warmwell site for more information. Read also PROFESSOR OF MYTHOLOGYby Allan Beat
He might not frighten the Taliban but he sure frightens me.
Should we feel safe with a leader who makes such a mess of controling a comparatively minor animal disease?
Click on the Thumbnails for the full sized picture
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Also, click on links below the thumbnails for more information on F&M to help you make up your own mind on the subject.
It is quite frightening to have seen how easily the news has been manipulated during the whole of the Foot - and - Mouth crisis. I am not simply referring to suppression of information or the dissemination of innuendo and smear to deflect criticism and blame. Many journalists have allowed the whole subject of debate to be decided for them so that real questions of importance or embarrassment to officials are not even on the agenda. Hence, contrary to the truth, it is widely accepted that the scale of the disaster was unavoidable, there was no choice but to slaughter infected and contiguous beasts, that vaccination would not work, that even vaccinated animals have to be slaughtered, that it is not possible to distinguish between a vaccinated and an infected animal, that Chinese restaurants are to blame, no the farmers are to blame, etc, etc. There was a very deliberate trend towards blaming farmers who were being told to maintain their bio security while at the same time, the countryside was opened up to the public. What on earth was the sense in telling farmers not to visit other farms as they were told on the DEFRA web site, while at the same time encouraging members of the public to do just that!! Oh yes, and we also had NFU chairman Eric Gill suggesting that the BBC is helping to spread the disease with helicopters. Pleeeeeeease!!
If we were thrown titbits of food by politicians or officials we would surely wash it carefully before swallowing. We should do the same with any titbit of information. It is stating the obvious to say that they would not be throwing it to us were it not to their advantage to do so, and the chances are it is tainted. There is little excuse for the scale of ignorance and misinformation. There is a significant amount of information available on the internet. Below you will find links to a few of the many sites.
If I accepted that the hysteria surrounding this disease was indeed "endemic and out of control", then I would very reluctantly concede that that we need an eradication and control policy. I will not argue here for vaccination as an alternative to slaughter, although from what I have read, I think that this should be considered. I will ignore here most of the inefficiencies of slaughter and disposal we have been seeing recently and have tried to concentrate on the vaccination issue as an aid to the present policy.
Opponents of vaccination have raised many spurious objections. Amongst these are
a) The public will be reluctant to buy vaccinated meat.
This deceitfully ignores the fact that livestock is already vaccinated against other diseases.
b) That vaccination is expensive.
The British Cattle Vetinary Association said in a reply to me that "if farmers cannot make a living from the livestock they farm, they can no longer provide the best possible facilities for those animals to provide the best welfare. The whole is inter-related". Well, if a dog breeder could not afford necessary vetinary treatment for his animals I am sure that he would get short shift from the courts as well as the vetinary profession and it would be firmly suggested that he found another occupation.
c) The animal welfare issue is raised.
Again from the BCVA "this disease causes serious pain and distress to those animals it infects, a serious welfare problem. It must be controlled for this reason alone, and not be allowed to continue sporadically in the future."
Even were it possible to alleviate the clinical symptoms of the disease one would not be legally allowed to do so. I understand that there are remedies homeopathic or otherwise which might mask these clinical symptoms and thus reduce or eliminate pain or distress. I suspect that the use of such remedies would be discouraged by those in charge of controlling this outbreak for obvious reasons, but I find it strange to hear vets speaking so vehemently against those using or supplying them. Vets might want to use eradication rather than control for this disease but I query their use of the welfare card at the same time as they accept the political and economic arguments which preclude any preventative or remedial action and forces slaughter of even uninfected "contacts"
It is also claimed that vaccination would help cause the spread of the disease to wild animals. Well if F&M is as virulent as claimed, it is a certainty that it is already in wild populations and thus endemic in this country. Do we cull every wild Dear in the land?
d) Livestock would have to be vaccinated every 6 months.
Another attempt to distract people from the immediate priority which should be to control this particular outbreak.
e) Vaccination does not work in the presence of maternal antibody.
This is another distraction. I don't think anyone is arguing that vaccination is 100% successful. I thought that it's use was being considered as a tool which would help reduce "amplifiers" Reducing the number of animals susceptible to the disease also reduces the sources of infection. It doesn't need to eliminate it altogether to have beneficial effect.
f) Here are at least 3 related points often made i.e.
Vaccination in the face of an outbreak is not particularly successful and is variable due to the lack of time for a response to occur with a very short incubation period.
Immunity in vaccinated animals can be overcome by field viral load, i.e. vaccinated animals can succumb to disease even when antibodies have been formed.
Vaccinated animals can carry infection without overt clinical signs of disease.
Again, distractions. Anything to reduce the overall viral load should be used. The fact that animals become infectious even before clinical signs of the disease become apparent is not used as an argument against slaughter. Why should less than 100% effectiveness be used as an argument against vaccination?
This it seems is not true. Maybe opponents of vaccination wish that it were for why has Pirbright declined offers of help in this matter? (Please see sheepdrove Web site http://www.sheepdrove.com/fam.htm Peter Kindersley's notes of meetings with Professor Fred Brown in London.)
h) Vaccination would effectively close the doors for export of pigs, sheep and cattle and their meat from the UK for at least 4 years from now.
If this were indeed true I would have thought that dedicated Vetinary practitioners would welcome the resulting benefit to animal welfare with the banning of live animal exports. Again, in the unlikely event of it being true, how does one explain the fact that we import meat from countries that vaccinate or have endemic foot and mouth problems? Also the loss of export trade is vastly outweighed by the losses to other sectors of the economy by the continuation of this outbreak.
I) It would be difficult to decide which strains of the virus need to be covered and we might even have to vaccinate with several monovalent vaccines as multivalent varieties are in early development and very expensive.
A huge red herring. Unless the authorities are even more deceitful than I thought, we are only talking about one strain in this outbreak.
J) It would be difficult to get farmers to co-operate with a vaccination scheme. (This point was made to me in a letter from DEFRA using opposition from the NFU and others to absolve themselves from blame)
Oh really? I don't think so if compensation for loss of stock was withheld from those not co-operating.
k) It would be necessary to slaughter vaccinated animals anyway.
Not true. To quote professor Brown "If it is decided to ring vaccinate, this would reduce the virus load enormously. In addition it would be ludicrous to slaughter the vaccinated animals subsequently."
L) The costs of a vaccination policy are far greater than a slaughter and eradicate policy.
Indeed? This has got to be nonsense particularly if the
figures relate only to the control of this particular outbreak. Also, at the moment, I
didn't know that anyone was talking about a vaccination policy on it's own. I would not
have thought that anyone concerned with animal welfare should be putting forward such
arguments even if they were true. See B) above. There are large financial
incentives for some farmers to co-operate with the slaughter policy. It is
undoubtedly true that many of those against vaccination are making a "killing"
out of this outbreak and lots of these I would not describe as farmers at all but as
graziers or dealers. Why on earth should the rest of the community be subsidising them,
allowing them a veto, and tolerating the present policy to the huge inconvenience and
expense of the rest of us? We should expect more leadership from the Prime
Minister. There is no discredit in admitting to our mistakes.
Yes it would be nice to be able to trust the figures that they are putting out for numbers of cases, but as long as MAFF continues to suppress some statistics we would be stupid to do so.
The Foot and Mouth problem is not going to go away. It is certain to return once this crisis is over. No one can guarantee that the present crisis will not be festering on towards the end of the year or on into the next. Our present problems were foreseen. The recommendations of the Committee of Inquiry on Foot-and-Mouth Disease in 1968 have been largely ignored. No doubt we will have to bear the expense of another inquiry after all this. (Wrong -- we have now been promised what will be nothing more than a cover up. )
Why isn't the Government paying for foot and mouth? Read this article from the Telegraph 5/6/2001 By Matt Ridley
Read this article in the Times. An excellent article summing up the situation 24/5 2001 Wasted nation: the truth about foot-and-mouth BY MAGNUS LINKLATER
Click on the links below for more information on Foot - and - Mouth Disease
Warmwell Probably the best site for up to date information. This Site provides links to other FMD information and gives legal advice to those wishing lawfully to protect their livestock from needless slaughter
Cull MAFF An excellent site devoted mainly to action against the present policiesCattle foot-and-mouth: Surveying the shambles. by Rae West 2001 An interesting look at F&M stressing the importance of an open mind and not blindly accepting everything we are told.
OIE web site: World organisation for animal health Classification, epidemiology, diagnosis etc.
Another soil association page with the following reports: Vaccination against viral disease as applied to foot and mouth disease, Ruth Watkins. Problems with the current control policy and the feasibility of alternatives, Dr Keith Sumption. Peter Midmore, Institute of Rural Studies, the University of Wales, Aberystwyth. An evaluation of the current control policy from a historical perspective By Abigail Woods MA MSc VetMB MRCVS
http://www.hjones-sons.co.uk/main.htm Latest News on Foot and Mouth
Silentmajority This site has an anti EEC bias but lots of good articles and information
Farm Talking Help,advice and information for anyone affected by the Foot and Mouth Disease crisis
Bullman.org Foot and Mouth is the truth still out there? Insight by Bruce Jobson
whatareweswallowing Bringing you information the establishment would prefer you not to read
rip-off Britain . An investigation of the foot and mouth disease scandal. A wealth of information.
http://vexxed.co.uk/FootandMouth/ A site devoted to correspondence and debate on F&M
North Devon Journal Local and national news on Foot and Mouth plus essential information