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LAST COUNTY ACHIEVES FMD FREE STATUS

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Midnight last night saw a landmark in the fight against foot and mouth, when Northumberland will be reclassified as...
Midnight last night saw a landmark in the fight against foot and mouth, when Northumberland will be reclassified as FMD Free. It is not the official end of the FMD outbreak though it is a most welcome landmark.

The reclassification of Northumberland as FMD-free follows the

reclassification at the start of the year of North Yorkshire, Cumbria

and Durham and means that all counties in Britain now have FMD Free

status so far as livestock movements are concerned.

The move follows the completion of a huge surveillance operation with

over three million sheep tested for signs of the disease. The

reclassification of Northumberland had been delayed due to the need

for further detailed investigations into some blood test results

which suggested that sheep could have been exposed to disease. These

investigations indicated that no active virus was present, thus

allowing Northumberland to attain Free status.

The change in classification eases restrictions on animal movements.

Livestock from Northumberland will now be able to move under local

authority licence throughout the country.

Restrictions remain on some individual farms across GB which were

culled out as infected premises or dangerous contacts until cleansing

and disinfection work is complete or until 12 months has elapsed

since preliminary disinfection if secondary cleansing and

disinfection is not undertaken. Most cleansing and disinfection has

been completed or will be done by the end of February. A very small

number are likely to remain under restriction in the coming months.

Restrictions also remain on exports. Meat and live pigs can be

exported under control, though not yet from all counties. The EU

standing veterinary committee will consider over the coming weeks

further easing of export controls.

Last week the EU agreed that imports of FMD-susceptible live animals

into Cumbria could resume and this is being implemented into national

law. The prohibition on importing such animals into Northumberland

remains in place. This will also be reconsidered by the EU this

week.

98% of footpaths are now open nationwide. A small number crossing

former infected premises are still closed, and members of the public

should continue to respect any signs in place to this effect.

DEFRA minister Lord Whitty welcomed today's news:

'Today sees a landmark in the fight against foot and mouth disease.

From midnight tonight Northumberland will join the other counties in

achieving FMD free status.

For all counties in Britain to have achieved FMD free status by

mid-January is a credit to vets and officials, to farmers and to the

wider rural community. It is through their efforts and patience that

we have come so far in combating this disease. However, we are not

quite at the end of the road yet.

Work is still going on to complete cleansing and disinfection on

individual farms and to obtain international recognition that Britain

can be declared disease free. The impact of this terrible outbreak

will certainly befelt for some time yet. The change in status for

Northumberland will ease some of the livestock movement restrictions

which have been in place. I would ask everyone in the industry, and

everyone who cares about the future of agriculture in this country,

to continue to be on their guard.'

Notes

1. Livestock movement arrangements are based on county, unitary

authority and metropolitan district classification. To achieve FMD

Free status counties must meet the following conditions:

No outbreaks of FMD for 3 months, and

Serological surveillance in 3km zone and 3-10km zone around

individual outbreaks complete and seropositive sheep/flocks

destroyed, and

All at risk flocks (farms under Form D investigations and farms

known to have received sheep between 1-23 February) resolved, ie

dead or tested negative.

Additional serological surveillance was undertaken in several

counties, including Northumberland, where there were high sheep

populations and a history of heavy infection, in order for the chief

veterinary officer to be confident about the disease status of flocks

in those counties.

2. Northumberland's first confirmed case was on 23 February 2001,

the fourth in the UK from a final total of 2030. Its last case on 29

September was the penultimate, only succeeded by a case in Cumbria on

30 September.

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