Visit Siani's Other Blogs

Visit Gower Strange Days

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Gower Show off due to foot & mouth

The Gower Show, due to take place at Penrice Castle on Sunday, August 5th, has been cancelled due to the outbreak of foot and mouth disease in Surrey. There is nothing to suggest that Gower is at risk, but a UK-wide ban on the movement of livestock came into force as soon as the outbreak was confirmed. This is in stark contrast to the delays which occurred during the catastrophic outbreak of the disease in 2001, when as many as 10 million animals were slaughtered, at a cost of up to £8.5 billion.

Who could ever forget the horrendous images of animal carcasses being loaded onto huge pyres? I can remember seeing the smoke from such pyres drifting across the bay from high on the Devon hills. It was chilling. Hopefully, the rapid deployment of movement restrictions will keep the current outbreak to a minimum. Tests are being conducted at a number of other Surrey farms, but so far, no more cases have been confirmed.

The strain responsible for the latest outbreak has been identified as one normally found in vaccines, not animals. According to the BBC, this strain "is identical to the strain used at the Institute for Animal Health at Pirbright, three miles from the farm". DEFRA is currently unable to confirm that the strain came from the laboratory, but both the UK's chief vet, as well as PM Gordon Brown, have said that the laboratory at Pirbright is a possible source of the outbreak. A bio-security review has been implemented at the laboratory, and manufacture of the vaccine has been suspended by a private company which operates from the same site. If this outbreak can be traced to Pirbright, how in the world did it get out? Are we looking at potential negligence here? Or a possible act of malice?

At the moment, despite the cancellation of the Gower Show, it seems Wales is safe. There are no restrictions on access to the countryside and cliffs of Gower. If anyone has any concerns about the outbreak, contact DEFRA's helpline on 08459 335577, or check out the foot and mouth disease pages on their website.

No comments: