Epidemic is world's worst

Epidemic is world's worst

September 4, 2001 The Daily Telegraph (London) by Charles Clover 
and Sandra Barwick
AS THE 2,000th case of foot and mouth was confirmed yesterday, the Government admitted that it had failed to meet its target of slaughtering all cases within 24 hours of being reported by farmers.

The Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said that last week animals on only 43 per cent of infected premises were slaughtered within 24 hours and only 86 per cent were slaughtered within 36 hours.

The epidemic is now the worst in the world in terms of the total number of animals slaughtered. The present epidemic has a lower number of cases than the 2,354 in the 1967-68 outbreak. But, partly as a result of farms having grown many times since then, the number slaughtered was 3,801,517 this year compared with 433,987 in 1967.

Livestock have now been slaughtered on 9,311 farms. Nearly as many animals have been slaughtered in Britain in seven months as in the four years since the 1997 Taiwan outbreak, which in terms of the slaughter of infected and suspected cases remains the largest outbreak in the world.

Some 4,037,014 livestock, nearly all pigs, have died or been slaughtered in Taiwan since 1997, causing economic hardship and removing Japan's main source of pork. But when the 1,557,780 slaughtered under the livestock welfare scheme are added to the total infected and suspected cases slaughtered in Britain during the 2001 epidemic, the British epidemic has resulted in the greatest loss of life.

The total number of livestock slaughtered this year for all reasons was 5,359,297.

Tim Bennett, the deputy director of the National Farmers' Union, said: "In our worst nightmares, we could never have imagined just how significant an epidemic this would be when we heard about the first case.

"Despite the bleak headlines, the huge efforts being made mean that the situation is improving every day." An average of three fresh cases were reported in the week to Aug 26 compared with 40 at the epidemic's height.

Pressure of new cases in Northumberland means that the burial site at Tow Law, in Co Durham, will continue to be used for carcass disposal despite protests from locals.

John Bradbury, the department's regional operations director in Newcastle upon Tyne, said there was not enough rendering capacity to cope with the demand.

The burial site at Widdrington, Northumberland, may be brought back into operation if cases in the county continue to mount.

So far 1,400 sheep and 275 cattle have been taken to Tow Law since Sunday and six lorryloads arrived yesterday.

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