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19-07-2007 - FMD update: publication of interim epidemiology report and vaccination In accordance with contingency planning arrangements vaccination is at the forefront of disease control policy in Foot and Mouth Disease outbreaks. Arrangements for possible vaccination were triggered immediately disease was confirmed on Friday 3rd August. The Forward Vaccination Centre was in place by 6th August outside of the Surveillance Zone with teams in place ready to vaccinate should the decision be taken to do so.

Any decision to vaccinate is based on a veterinary assessment of risk and follows the FMD vaccination decision tree in the contingency plan. Vaccination is used as a disease control measure if it is demonstrated that steps additional to slaughter policy may be required to eradicate the disease.

In line with this decision tree and the emerging conclusions of epidemiology investigations it has been decided not to vaccinate at this time. However, this approach will be kept under constant review as the disease situation develops and the Forward Vaccination Centre will be kept in place.

As part of the evidence base for this decision Defra has today published an interim epidemiology report into the outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease in Surrey

The report sets out initial findings of the National Emergency Epidemiology Group who have been investigating the outbreak. It concludes that it is very likely that the source of infection is the Pirbright site where Merial Animal Health Ltd and the Institute for Animal Health are located.

The report goes on to identify the possible mechanisms for spread of the virus from the Pirbright site.

It concludes that the risk of spread of infection out of Surrey through movements of undisclosed infection in sheep during the risk period is very low. It sets out the most likely scenario that while there is a risk of further cases in the same area, it is unlikely that infection from the original release of the virus will occur, however, further cases could arise from secondary spread.

Chief Veterinary Officer, Debby Reynolds said:

“The decision not to vaccinate at this stage, but to retain our full readiness to do so, demonstrates that our contingency planning arrangements are working. The epidemiology report indicates that infection may be contained to the Surrey area. But, these are our emerging findings, this is a developing situation and new information may come to light at any stage which changes our understanding of the outbreak.”

“It is therefore crucial that all animal keepers continue with the most stringent biosecurity measures, remain vigilant and contact their own veterinarian or local Animal Health Office if they have any concerns.”

Notes to editors
1. The interim epidemiology report can be found at [PDF] (500 KB)

2. Biosecurity advice: Biosecurity literally means ‘safe life’. If you work or come into contact with farm animals, biosecurity means taking steps to make sure that good hygiene practices are in place. This will help prevent the spread of animal disease.

Disease may not always be apparent, especially in the early stages
Be clean, particularly if handling animals or moving between different premises - If direct contact with farm animals cannot be prevented then it's best practice to cleanse and disinfect protective clothing, footwear, equipment, vehicles etc. before and after contact.
A good biosecurity routine is always essential – not just when there is a major disease outbreak. You should ensure that work methods are designed to minimise where possible movements of people, vehicles or equipment into areas where farm animals are kept
During an outbreak:
Only essential visitors should visit any premises with farm animals within areas where restrictions are involved.

3. The exact details of current Protection and Surveillance Zones can be found on the Defra website at:

4. The Defra public helpline is currently operating from 6am-10pm. The public should call: 08459 335577.

5. Advice from the Health Protection Agency (HPA) is that foot and mouth disease is not a public health threat.

6. FMD is a disease of cattle and very few human cases have ever been recorded even though the disease is endemic in animals in many parts of the world including Asia, Africa, the Middle East and South America. Foot and mouth disease only crosses the species barrier from cattle to human with very great difficulty. The last human case reported in Britain occurred in 1966. The disease in humans, in the very rare cases that have occurred, is mild, short-lived and requires no medical treatment.


Public enquiries: 08459 335577
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Page published: 10 August 2007 12:30

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