JOINT INSTRUCTION TO REGIONAL OPERATIONS DIRECTORS & DIVISIONAL VETERINARY MANAGERS
SLAUGHTER POLICY ON CONTIGOUS PREMISES
1. The Governments policies for slaughter on infected premises within 24 hours, and on contiguous premises within 48 hours, have been crucial to the control of the epidemic. The general judgement that susceptible animals on contiguous premises will have been exposed to infection still remains; following advice from the Chief Scientific Adviser and the Chief Veterinary Officer, the Minister has announced a broadening of the existing areas of discretion for local veterinary judgement in the
2. These instructions develop and clarify the pre-emptive cull policy on contiguous premises, which is designed to remove incubating disease in susceptible animals before signs of clinical disease are apparent
3.- - This note also incorporates summaiy instructions on the treatment of hefted moorland breeds of sheep, and rare breeds of sheep
4. The revised approach can be summarised as follows:
(i) On confirmation of disease (clinically or through a positive test result), all dangerous contacts and contiguous premises to the IP should continue to be identified.
(ii) Dangerous contacts (via known movements of animals, personnel, vehicles, equipment etc or potential airborne spread) should be be culled in accordance with the latest standing instructions (currently Section X of Chapter 3 as amended by Emergency Instruction 200 1/95/VEXDT). This will cover a number of contiguous premises.
(iii) On other contiguous premises, susceptible animals should continue to be culled, subject only to the following limited exceptions, based on local veterinary judgement:
(a) Cattle may be spared if there is adequate biosecurity. This is a matter of local veterinary judgement taking account, for example, of the degree of compliance with the joint advice to cattle and sheep farmers issued by MAFF, the cattle and sheep veterinary associations, the NFU and the
National Sheep Association (annexed).Further guidance has been issued in Scotland by SERAD. Cattle should not be rgarded as meeting this criterion if they have since 1 February grazed within 50 metres of the boundary of the infected premises.
(b) a strictly limited exception, following consultation on published proposals and summarised in paragraph 9 below, for rare breed sheep
(c) as now, and in accordance with the Animal Health Act, where there is insufficient reason to consider that the animals on the premises have been exposed to disease (see paragraph 12(b) below)
(iv) in accordance with EU requirements, where cattle on contiguous premises are not culled, they should be subject to regular veterinary inspections as set out in paragraph 11 below.
5. Veterinary judgements about whether to cull cattle on contiguous premises must be based on an assessment of the risks involved, and action taken must be proportionate to the degree of risk. For example, where cases are outside or on the edge of existing infected areas, or where there is a risk of transmission to or from neighbouring pigs, a more precautionary approach to biosecurity and exposure should be taken.
6. All veterinary judgements must be carefully made and recorded locally including those on
Whether the premises are contiguous.
The likely effectiveness of any biosecurity measures
Any special risk factor that were taken into account.
7. As already agreed, if exceptionally there remain contiguous premises where 21 days have passed since the date of confirmation of FMD at the relevant infected place, cattle and pigs which have been clinically examined and found healthy can be assumed not to have become infected, and should not be compulsorily slaughtered. However any sheep or goats present should be slaughtered as clinical symptoms may not be apparent.
Distinguishing between species
8. The Chief Veterinary Officer has provided advice to Ministers on the differential risk of onward disease transmission posed by the different susceptible species. In summary, pre-emptive culling of sheep (as "silent shedders" of virus which cannot reliably be detected, especially early in the disease) and pigs (as major shedders of virus) which are judged to have been exposed to infection remains essential. A
somewhat greater risk of infection can be accepted in cattle (clear and relatively early indicators of disease, with lower onward transmission risks than pigs), provided they are kept under adequate biosecurity, and monitored for signs of disease.
9. Even where there is some risk of infection, breeding flocks or parts of those flocks, of rare breeds of sheep of particular genetic merit may also be spared in the national interest, provided that they can be isolated from other susceptible livestock and managed in compliance with tight biosecurity. Separate guidance on this will be issued. Other sheep in such flocks, such as fat lambs and non-rare breeds, should be culled.
10. In line with the existing preliminary guidance already issued to relevant offices, the following should be taken into account in applying the contiguous premises policy to hefted sheep On hill farms, provided that the level of biosecurity is judged sufficient to make the risks of disease transmission small:
(a) where disease is confirmed in a flock on the fell, sheep on the associated in-bye farm will be slaughtered and the contiguous premises should be defined as the hefts (or equivalent) surrounding the IP heft, but not in-bye farms which are only contiguous with the in-bye farm associated with the infected heft;
(b) where the outbreak occurs on the in-bye farm, the sheep on the associated heft will be slaughtered and the contiguous premises should be defined as the contiguous in-bye farms, but not the hefts (or equivalent) of those farms. Serological samples should, however, be taken from those hefts, to establish whether these animals need to be culled.
Where the level of biosecurity is not judged sufficient, the sheep on the contiguous in-bye farms and hefts should be culled in both circumstances.
11. On contiguous premises where cattle have not been slaughtered in accordance with the provisions above, they should be subjected to a veterinary inspection every 48 hours for the first eight days after confirmation of the infection on the IP and thereafter once a week until three weeks after the preliminary cleansing & disinfection of the infected premises. This should be supplemented by telephone contact as judged appropriate.
12. If, in spite of an explanation of the strategy and the veterinary judgements in relation to the individual premises and animals described above, the farmer objects to having his stock taken, there should be a rapid review by veterinary management, taking into account representations made, in order to confirm the assessment that:
(a) the premises are in fact contiguous. There are geographical issues (such as a significant area of intervening woodland or arable land being in the way) which may affect this judgement; and
(b) the livestock on the contiguous farm concerned appear in any way to have been exposed to infection. The fact that animals have been housed, or kept more than 50 metres away from the boundary of the IP, does not of itself mean that they have not been exposed to infection.
13. In all cases of farmer objection, a careful record should be kept of the action taken, and the grounds of objection, and the grounds on which any objection was overruled or, as the case may be, allowed.
14. The final decision in cases where the farmer persists in his objections should be taken by the Divisional Veterinary Manager consulting if necessary with Senior Veterinary Management.
15. Separate guidance has been issued on enforcement action, and is being prepared on the handling of legal challenge.
16. Further detailed guidance will be provided as necessary on conduct and clearance of veterinary assessments. It is important that a signed record is made locally of the reasoning and conclusions in each case.
17. When the instructions come into effect
These instructions supersede the joint instruction of 6 April, and should be applied with immediate effect, including to cases already being processed.
Martin Atkinson Jenny Bacon
27 April 2001