Sunday, 5 August 2007

Foot and Mouth

After months of flooding in England the waters are slowly subsiding to show the real damage caused to infrastructure, peoples homes and in some areas the lose of lives. Private insurance claims are estimated to run into billions of pounds, the time scale to put the damage caused to right again is thought to be around 6 - 12 month at least. Then there is the knock on effect of the damage the floods have caused, disease, death, as the waters go people are finding dead animals and fish which have been traped below the water line, and then there are the spoiled crops. Most of the crops grown in England have been wiped out or at best given a poor yield this year meaning that retail stores have had to import some of their vegetables from other countries causing the prices to rise. This time Nosceres World can not blame the government either local or national for what has happened... Well other than poor flood defenses, inadequate drainage, sewage systems and storm drains, the creation of roads and buildings on known historical flood planes etc, etc. Of course the government are not liable for this despite what those who have had their lives and livelihoods ruined by the floods are saying. It does make me wonder if the same will happen next year.

So now with the prices of some vegetables crops almost doubling in price we are hit with another pending disaster. Over the weekend a cattle farm in Surrey has been found to have cattle suffering from Foot and Mouth. (Foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) is an acute infectious disease, which causes fever, followed by the development of vesicles (blisters) - chiefly in the mouth and on the feet). Oh and incase your wondering "Yes" it is possible for us humans to get Foot and Mouth, although there has been only one reported case of this happening in this country. Click here. c11dd1b6-53b5-4342-ac74-e392f0516b04 The infected cattle, all 60 of them were culled once they were confirmed as having FMD. On testing the cattle were found to have a strain of foot and mouth last seen in this country in 2001. Further investigation by Defra (Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs) found the strain of the disease to be identical to that used for vaccines and testing at a Pirbright research site only a few month earlier. The strain of the disease identified at Wolford farm, near Guildford, was also used in a batch of vaccine manufactured on 16 July by Merial.On finding this the Biosafety cordon was extended from the 3 kilometers which was placed around the infected farm to include the Pirbright research site. Of course Pirbright's Institute for Animal Health (IAH), an international diagnostic laboratory, say that in their findings there were "No biosecurity breaches". Martin Shirley, director of the Government-funded Institute, said: "The IAH operates under strict bio-security procedures licensed by Defra. "In addition to general checks on bio-security, operation of equipment, procedures and physical barriers etc., which have shown no breaches of our procedures, we have been able to check our records specifically for use of this strain. Our results have shown limited use within the lab within the past four weeks."

Of course IAH is denying any liability, the Pirbright labs hold around 5000 known viruses (I believe) if they are found liable there is no reason I can see for them loosing their license and then there is the compensation claims, after all the Wolford farm, has had 60 of its cows slaughtered over an error by a laboratory a couple of miles away and then there is the reputation of the farm who is now known to have held infected cattle. At the moment farmers are fearing another outbreak last seen in 2001 were about three quarters of the farms in the UK were under quarantine. France it is said has already stopped importing British Beef . If things do escalate to anywhere near what we experienced in 2001 not only will the prices of the vegetables in British stores increase, we will also see an increase in the cost of our meat products. Looks like the traditional British Sunday lunch will become a MacDonalds, and all because of an error that "Did not happen" in an animal research laboratory.

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