The reclassification of Northumberland as FMD-free follows the
reclassification at the start of the year of North Yorkshire, Cumbria
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
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.'
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
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