Since the start of this outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease,
the Government’s two priorities have been to contain its
spread and to discover how it may have started.
Having quickly put restrictions in place last Friday, the Chief
Veterinary Officer and her team have been working to identify
any further cases and to adjust restrictions in response to the
facts. In addition, epidemiological investigations continue.
There are now two confirmed cases, and the process of inspecting
and testing animals within the Protection Zones is continuing.
With the exception of the second case, confirmed this morning,
no other cases have so far been identified. We are determined
to control and eradicate this disease as soon as possible. I
would ask the farming community, as it has done throughout, to
maintain vigilance, and report any concerns whatsoever to Animal
Following the confirmation on 4th August that the strain of
virus found in the first case was not recently circulating in
animals, but was held at both the Institute for Animal Health
and Merial Animal Health Ltd – both on the Pirbright site – I
asked the HSE to investigate. I have now received their ‘Initial
Report of potential breaches to bio-security at the Pirbright
The report indicates that there was a negligible combined likelihood
of an airborne release of virus from either site. The likelihood
of a direct waterborne link between the infected farm and the
shared site is also negligible. But further investigation is
being carried out into the drainage on the Pirbright site. Release
by human movement - which the report describes as a real possibility – will
now be investigated further as a matter of urgency. This will
involve further interviews with personnel at the site, I have
asked for a further report on these investigations as soon as
I note that there is no reason to prevent IAH from operating
and I await the results of the further investigations at Merial.
Following the confirmation of the second case within the larger
main Protection Zone, and the ongoing investigations, the Chief
Veterinary Officer, Debby Reynolds, has recommended to me that
footpaths be now closed in this zone. I have agreed that this
should happen with immediate effect.
Finally, I would like to thank the HSE team and others for their
work, the staff of Animal Health, Defra and others for their
swift and sterling efforts to control this outbreak, and the
farming community for their continued support and forbearance
at this difficult time.
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