HL Deb 08 July 2002 vol 637 cc71-2WA
The Duke of Montrose

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they had considered the research referred to by Dr Anderson, of the Institute of Animal Health in the article he wrote in the Veterinary Record on 12 May 2001 before the Winslade case went to court on 22 May; and [HL4965]

Further to the comments of Lord Whitty on the 25 June (HL Deb, col. 1287), whether their assessment of all forms of transmission was amended in any way after they had considered the research referred to by Dr Anderson, of the Institute of Animal Health, in the Veterinary Record on 12 May 2001. [HL4966]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Whitty)

I presume the noble Duke is referring to the article on research on foot and mouth disease by Dr Donaldson in theVeterinary Record of 12 May 2001.

Instructions issued to the State Veterinary Service on 6 April state that the key methods of transmission of foot and mouth (FMD) have been "through animal, human, mechanical or airborne transfer between neighbouring farms". In the light of the epidemiological background, it is believed that susceptible animals on farms neighbouring a farm where infection has been confirmed will have been exposed to the infection of FMD. The culling of susceptible animals on contiguous farms was vital to prevent further onward spread of the disease. The Winslade case was one where my department obtained a High Court injunction to enable the culling of cattle on a contiguous farm.

The article by Dr Donaldson concerns itself with only one route of transmission—airborne spread. His research shows that with the particular strain we were dealing with, airborne spread was unlikely to play much part in the lateral spread of disease. But in the 2001 outbreak the other routes were important. Analysis has shown that nearly 80 per cent of cases occurred within 3km of existing infected place and the likely method of spread was put down to one or more of the other routes of infection given above. Dr Donaldson's paper downplays these other routes in the belief that livestock farmers operated good biosecurity. However, this was not always the case.