Subject: Professor Fred Brown's visit to London
These are my quick notes of the meetings with Professor Fred Brown in London. Present were Professor Fred Brown from the US FMD Centre at Plum Island(formerly Deputy Director of Pirbright Animal Virus Research Institute) who visited London yesterday and attended one meeting at the CLA and a press conference at Central Hall Westminster.
The first was at the Country Landowners Association.
On the panel were also:
Dr Ruth Watkins, Clinical Virologist,
Dr Jim Hutchinson, Clinical Microbiologist
Richard Row, (vets for vaccination)Veterinarian
and a representative from MAFF Lindsay Harris
In the audience was:
Dr Keith Sumption (who wrote the original paper on vaccination)
Christopher Bourchier of the Crown Estates
David Hewitt and Lucy Andrews of the Holstein Society
David Smith of the British Retail Consortium
Dr Helen Szamuely of Honest Food
George Dunn of the Tenant Farmers Association
Iain Kerr of the National Beef Association
James Black of the National Pig Association
Jim Begg of the Dairy Industry Federation
Lambit Opik MP a Member of the Agriculture Committee
Martin Haworth of the NFU
Patrick Holden of the Soil Association
Rhiannon Davies of the Royal Agricultural Society of England
Richard Sibley of the British Cattle Veterinary Association
Lawrence Woodward of the Elm Farm Research Centre
Rob Macklin of the National Trust
Robert Foster of the National Beef Association
Richard Lutwycke of the Rare Breeds Survival Trust
Tim Collins MP for Kendal
Tony Mitchell Jones for English Nature
Colin Fink of Micropathology at University of Warwick Science Park
Members of the CLA team - Caroline Cranbook
and others were also present.
Questions were asked and the panel answered them. The following subjects were covered:
Fred Brown stated generally that he had been VERY surprised by many of the statements coming out of Pirbright over the last weeks (this is code for Pirbright misinformation!). He said there was no scientific support for many of these statements. He was also horrified by the mass culling of, as he put it, 'innocent' animals.
Later, to support the constant stream of misinformation Lawrence Woodward stated that he had seen Pirbright make a 100% U-turn in front of the prime minister on 'carrier' status in animals in the course of one and half hours - from carriers being a big risk to carriers not being a significant risk at all.
Fred Brown and Plum Island together with a commercial company offered Pirbright a testing kit for the presence of FMD virus to be used on farms at the beginning of the epidemic. It was refused. (see letter from company at: www.FarmTalking.co.uk - Message Board). The kit was extremely sensitive to the presence of the virus. On adjacent farms to an outbreak it would have been possible to detect the virus within 2-3 hours at the farm gate. It follows that there would have been no need to do the blanket three kilometer ring cull. The practical way to have done this would have been to take swabs from all animals on a farm, combine them as one sample and test. In any one animal lesion there would be billions of virus but the test kit would have picked up just the presence of 100 virus in such a combined sample so it was extremely sensitive and accurate.
(See also the data on UBInc. At: www.SilentMajority.co.UK/FootInMouth )
As Fred said, & I quote:
"It was a beautiful piece of kit, simple and not costly. This would have had a dramatic effect on the amount of 'innocent' animals to have been culled".
Vaccinated animals were safe for human consumption. As evidence they had been eaten and their products such as milk drunk without any adverse effects for 40years on the continent before the ban on vaccination started in the early 90's. In any event all virus in a vaccine is dead 'killed' virus - just a protein.
The case of a human being getting infected was extremely rare - in our current case an animal fell from a lorry and burst squirting liquid directly into the man's face.
The 'carrier' status of animals was also discussed at length. Fred confirmed that no re-infection of other animals had taken place in tests. Naive animals and vaccinated carriers had been penned together and it was very difficult to get infection. He only knew of one case in the past which featured a Waterbuffalo in Africa!
The question of vaccines not being effective was discussed.
Fred said that even in tests where huge amounts of live virus had been directly put into a vaccinated animals mouth (many more times than would be expected in a real situation) the results were negative. There was no evidence that they don't work.
Fred also stated that the effects of vaccination were dramatic. The continent had experienced 100,000's of cases of FMD a year prior to vaccination being banned in the early '90's. When vaccination was used the effects were dramatic and disease free status was quickly gained.
The same applied to many countries around the world - it was the modern thing to do. Culling was fine in small outbreaks but MAFF should have realised very quickly that this was a huge outbreak where tracing the contacts was impossible due to too many animal movements and therefore could not be contained through culling only.
Vaccination should have started in the first one to two weeks. This was also the recommendation of the Northampton Report from '68.
The USA, seeing what had gone wrong in the UK, had suddenly woken up to the threat of FMD and was taking the FMD crisis very seriously. They were seriously considering vaccination now. They would not repeat the UK's mistakes.
Fred said that 'disease free status' was always a myth. It could not be supported any longer particularly in the new world- trading situation and was pointless in any event. What were the benefits? The possible exposure to the huge disruption such as we now experience was unacceptable.
Tests now existed for distinguishing vaccinated antibodies in an animal from an infected animal. Even Pirbright (remember Pirbright saying you could not distinguish vaccinates from infected animals!) had invented such a test in the last few years as had several other institutions such as Fred's own Plum Island and the EU.
So we should be able to grant disease free status (if we still need it) in a much shorter time now that we can test. Remember it is one year from last vaccinate or last cull to to get back your disease free status unless you cull, and then it is three months.
Fred also confirmed that the vaccinations work equally well in all species and that there was no special problems with sheep or pigs. The head of the Sheep Association stated he had been to Pirbright to ask this question and had been specifically told by them that vaccine did not work in sheep. Fred and others then discussed the misinformation coming out of Pirbright.
The so called difficulties of the logistical issues for sheep vaccination were extremely questionable since most sheep - up to 50% - were vaccinated for other diseases every year. Why not for FMD virus and with a special effort which every farmer would make, near 100% could be reached in a matter of days. Lindsay Harris of MAFF said it would take 2 years (raised eyebrows all round!)
Availability of vaccine was another issue covered where Fred Brown said the US had large stocks which could be used along with the Pirbright and EU stocks. Commercial companies can make them too.
Questioned on whether it was too late now for vaccination he said that he would still do it especially in the hot spots. The infection will go on popping up - you do not know where. This was due to the sheep having had it for much longer than previously thought.
Animals shed virus days before you can see symptoms. Cattle shed huge amounts. And in the '68 epidemic when cattle moved out to spring pasture they were very prone to infection from the soil due to FMD in it from sheep wintered previously. This was a threat that could be easily averted by vaccination. Prevention was better than cure.
Fred Brown stated that he was in favour of a move towards mass vaccination because it had been shown over the years to be the very best way to tackle any type of virus - human or animal. The huge medical successes of the past century had been the development of vaccines - why don't we use them? Ruth Watkins and Jim Hutchinson both agreed.
I hope to improve these notes with others who were present.
MAFF instructed Police to break up peaceful picket at Tow Law mass animal burial site.
1 girl 13
1 girl 15
7 elderly women (2 with heart condition)
3 younger women
1 man (with heart condition)
All were jailed for several hours, all had to give DNA samples, fingerprints, and were photographed, being told by the police that if they did not comply, then force would be used. Those with heart conditions had to await release before they could access their medications from home.
7 elderly women were given cautions
2 young women were charged with assaulting the police & aggravated trespass (court cases pending) 4 women charged with aggravated trespass (court cases pending)
1 man given a caution.
Local residents, mainly women & children blocked the site, refusing to allow 7 wagons (carrying 200 slaughtered cows for the burial pits). For several hours the police allowed the protest to continue, until 6.0pm MAFF then ordered the the police to break the blockade and move the protestors, claiming they were not on public property, but on Crown Land owned by MAFF.
The residents sat down on the roadway in front of the wagons, demanding MAFF close the site (which is situated 150 yds from the local primary school). Police moved in arresting people, targeting the women and young girls, as families tried to protect their relatives and stop the rough treatment from the police, they were arrested.
The conditions of release until trial or those cautioned, prohibits being within 250 yards of the mass animal burial site, effectively denying young mothers the right to take their children to the village primary school, or those wishing to attend church services, both are aprox. 150 yds from the site.
v The residents are to continue the protest today outside the site, refusing to be intimidated by the police or MAFF.
More pics to follow as we search our video tapes of events.
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