Wednesday, 21 December 2016

~ World's current policies on eliminating animal disease "outdated, inhumane and uneconomical"

    September 29th's Telegraph obituary for Roger Breeze (Credit: Kaveh Sardari) says that he believed that
      "the developed world's current policies for detection and management of such diseases, based on culling the host animals rather than stamping out the pathogen involved, were not only outdated, inhumane and uneconomical, but also rendered the countries concerned susceptible to potentially devastating introductions of pathogens by terrorists."
    As the head of the US Department of Agriculture's high containment laboratory at Plum Island from 1987 to 1995 and later area director for special research programs at the department's Agricultural Research Service, he was in a uniquely authoritative position to speak about such diseases as Foot and Mouth and to have considered the UK's official policies in 2001 and 2007 as gravely misguided. As a vet in the mould of James Herriot, he was also appalled at the unnecessary amount of animal suffering and rural despair. Since he was "also serving as chief scientific adviser to the US Defense Department's Threat Reduction Agency" his warnings that bioterrorism could be a cheap alternative to nuclear war - since the introduction of pathogens is considerably easier - were of enormous importance in the US.
    Two days earlier appeared the Telegraph obituary for Ian Mercer CBE, who led the excellent and fearless Devon Inquiry into the 2001 FMD disaster. As the obituary tersely remarks:
      "His report concluded that the government's handling of the crisis had been "lamentable"."
    The last word in the Devon Report's final section was that the recommendations made should not "fall on deaf ears".
    After 15 long years, one looks in vain for a clear, practical, humane and easy to follow Contingency Plan. What is so urgently needed is a plan in which the rapid on-site diagnostic efficiency advocated by Roger Breeze is acknowledged, the proper realisation of the need for local expertise to be able to take charge from the outset (as pleaded for by Ian Mercer's Devon Inquiry) is evident and first choice "vaccination to live" policies, justified by ever-better vaccines, are all adequately prepared for and clearly set out.

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