This interview is more important than it might appear at first glance - see
What it's alluding to - according to a separate well informed source - is
that many 'in the know' believe that a) the draconian contiguous cull
policy so forcibly advocated by Prof Roy Anderson's modelling team at
Imperial College (who have been the major influence on policy) was
unnecessary and b) has in any case failed to halt the steady spread of
subclinical infection in sheep.
I also have it on good authority that even if one did believe in the
validity (highly questionable for reasons outlined by Dr Paul Kitching) of
the Imperial model that a 3KM cull of sheep - the policy chosen - produced
very little better result than a 2KM cull of sheep. Selecting a 2KM cull
zone rather than a 3KM cull zone would have resulted in about 55% fewer
sheep being killed.
To sum up:
1. The model used as the main influence on control policy is probably flawed.
2. Even if it isn't the policy option chosen has lead to a dramatic
'overkill' of sheep, with all the consequences of that including carcass
See attached letter sent to the Prime Minister by vets working as TVIs in
Scotland deploring what's going on.
In an email message Roger Windsor, who is working as a TVI based in the FMD
Control Centre in Dumfies, tells me:
"David Wardrope and I are most concerned about the fact that huge numbers of
animals are being indiscriminately killed. To this end we wrote to the Prime
Minister, since he is in charge of the outbreak. We have had no reply, and
are furious. We have decided to take the campaign to the public."
Andrew Stephens BVetMed MRCVS
36 Falstaff Avenue, Earley, Reading, RG6 5TQ, UK
Tel: +44-(0)118-9756574 Fax: +44-(0)870-1337217
>Transcript of interview with Dr Paul Kitching from the Institute for
>Animal Health at Pirbright in Surrey from Channel Four News, Saturday 21st
>April. Dr Kitching is in charge of the department testing for foot and
>mouth. The interviewer is Krishnan Gurumurthy. This transcript is made
>available on the understanding that any use of quotes will be credited to
>Channel Four News.
>What do you think about the way the (epidemiological) modelling has been
>DR PAUL KITCHING
>I think this aspect of the whole handling of the outbreak is controversial.
>The modellers produced some very seductive graphs which would indicate
>where the virus is going, what the disease outbreak is likely to be in the
>future. The problem has been that there's been such little epidemiological
>investigation into the outbreak that the data which the modellers really
>require to input their model hasn't really been available.
>and if there isn't good data going into a model, one has to question the
>value of the data coming out.
>I think we've already seen certain of the modellers producing graphs which
>show that it's going to peak on May 6th and then when the election day got
>changed to June it also started to peak on that day as well.
>Virtually none of the models have been able to predict what has actually
>and I feel this is because there hasn't been the data input available, and
>there hasn't been the expert advice sought to feed into these models.
>There hasn't been, for instance, (a) distinction between the different
>species affected with foot and mouth disease
>and how they would influence the model; the fact that the virus has been
>hidden in sheep for some time and that many farms have been infected for 6
>or 7 weeks before they've even been identified. These type of things
>haven't been addressed by the modellers
>and clearly this has had an influence on their output. The alarming thing
>is how it seems to have influenced policy to such an extent.
>If what you're saying is true , how can the government's chief scientific
>adviser suggest, for example, that the disease appears to be coming under
>I would say the disease IS becoming under control...the disease is coming
>under control in spite of (the fact that) some of the control measures
>which were thought essential by the modellers are not fully in place, and
>this is what we would expect from what we know about the epidemiology of
>foot and mouth disease. The disease isn't going to behave differently in
>Great Britain from the way it behaves anywhere else in the rest of the
>world, and it's surprising how little input there's been from people with
>experience of the disease.
>What you're saying is the politicians and some of the unions have all been
>usign some bogus science to back up their arguments?
>The science isn't bogus.. modelling is a well-established discipline. It's
>just that it's essential to have the right inputs to get a satisfactory output.
>And it hasn't been there so far?
>The investigations were never undertaken at the start of the epidemic,
>mainly because of resource problems. So much of the resources were
>actually consumed in tracings and slaughter that very little epidemiology
>was actually undertaken and therefore the information required by the
>modellers wasn't available.
>If we had had the kind of data you're gathering now earlier on, do you
>think the measures we're using to tackle the disease might have been different?
>It'e easy to look back, but clearly, if we knew more about its behaviour
>in sheep right at the start, the spread through sheep, the contact , the
>transmission rate within sheep flocks, I'm sure it would have affected the
>policy on contiguous slaughter.
>How do you think it would have affected that policy?
>Well, again, looking at some of the newspapers, it appears that policy has
>been very much influenced by a paper which appeared last year referring to
>the outbreak in 1967-68. Now this was a huge outbreak of foot and mouth we
>had in the United Kingdom, but it mainly affected cattle and pigs, and
>that time, it was very important to slaughter the infected farms as soon
>as possible because they were transmitting a large amount of aerosol virus
>which would affect neighbouring farms. Also in that outbreak, initial
>infected animals were easily identifiable because foot and mouth is more
>easily seen in cattle and pigs.
>In this outbreak, we've got it predominantly in sheep, and it's been very
>difficult to identify clinically, so frequently it's been on the farm for
>some time before we find it. Therefore, it has to raise -- what is the
>urgency of the 24 hour slaughter if it's already been there 6 weeks?
>Also, the amount of production of aerosol virus from this particular virus
>is considerably reduced. Work carried out here at Pirbright by Alex
>Donaldson has already shown that aerosol production by this strain is much
>less from pigs than from previous strains that we've seen. So there's a
>lot of differences beteween this outbreak and the '67-68 outbreak, and yet
>it's policy driven by that outbreak that's dominated in this particular
>Are you saying that perhaps we didn't need to kill all these animals?
>I mean, certainly there's a lot of perfectly healthy animals that are
>being killed. I think when this outbreak is investigated in the future,
>we'll get a clear idea of just how many animals were slaughtered
Don't forget to login when using SmartGroups to make all its
features available to you!
If you want to share pictures, use the calendar, or start a vote
To leave the group, email: firstname.lastname@example.org