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FMD 10 Years On - British Veterinary Association

October 10, 2017

Commenting on the 10 year anniversary of the 2001 foot and mouth disease (FMD) outbreak, Harvey Locke, President of the British Veterinary Association, said:

"Ten years on from the devastation of the 2001 outbreak the UK remains at risk from Foot and Mouth Disease but the important lessons learned now mean we are better prepared if another outbreak does occur.

"Today the reaction in the UK would be much swifter with an immediate standstill put in place. We would also benefit from the use of vaccination, which was not available to us in 2011, and much better traceability systems.

"The recent Defra-led Exercise Silver Birch did an excellent job in demonstrating where we are now and how robust our current systems are. It raised a number of issues regarding the role of vaccination, the quality of communication channels and the adequacy of existing tracing systems which must be addressed when the Government reports back on the exercise."

Speaking about his personal experiences in 2011, Mr Locke added:

"I was involved in 2001 by volunteering as a TVI (temporary veterinary inspector) and giving up 2 weeks of my annual leave from my small animal practice to go and help.

"I signed up at BSAVA Congress in 2001 when MAFF had a stand to encourage small animal vets to sign up during the course of the Congress and I was sent to Cumbria, staying in a small guest house in Ulverston.

"We were inducted initially at MAFF in Carlisle and then I was transferred to a temporary centre set up in the South Lakes.

"The whole experience had a huge impact on me seeing at first hand the devastation to the local farming community.

"The most distressing element was that while farmers understood the job we had to do it obviously caused them such immense distress. The slaughtering of whole herds and flocks in such large numbers was almost too much to take in.

"The experience taught me that we must do all we can to stop this devastating disease getting into the country again and also to learn better how to deal with such an outbreak and avoid such wholesale slaughter.

"This is why cutting funding for surveillance and not protecting the resources to mobilise a large number of contingency Official Veterinarians just would not make any rational sense."

Source:
British Veterinary Association