Vaccination may be the only solution for this pestilence

Share

There is one thing that has become abundantly and depressingly clear about foot-and-mouth disease: it is a most persistent sort of pestilence.

There is one thing that has become abundantly and depressingly clear about foot-and-mouth disease: it is a most persistent sort of pestilence. The latest "mini-epidemic" in Northumberland merely confirms what we have known since March – that even when it appears to be under control, foot-and-mouth has a nasty habit of cheating eradication. And so it has proved once again.

However, there is more to the present cluster of cases than that. The region had been declared free of the disease for three months, and most farmers there must have felt that the worst was over. That the new outbreaks have been diagnosed in the vicinity of previous ones suggests that the measures taken to deal with those earlier diseased livestock may not have been sufficient. So, far from the Government being too zealous in pursuing their slaughter-and-contain policy, the disturbing possibility now emerges that the Maff vets may not have been thorough enough in dealing with livestock on contiguous farms. If such a failure has happened on a national scale then the consequences will be grim indeed.

We do not yet know, of course, if that is the case, and that is all the more reason for some urgent further research into the causes of the resurgence of the disease in Northumberland. It will also, in due course, be an important matter for the various inquiries set up by Margaret Beckett, the Secretary of State for the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

In the meantime, the issue of vaccination will be raised again. This has been resisted by the Government and the farmers alike, and rightly so, because it would end the meat export trade and devastate sales at home. Irrational as it may be, people are reluctant to eat meat from vaccinated animals. The slaughter policy did have the merit of retaining some confidence in the meat trade and a reasonably rapid recovery in exports.

If, however, it becomes clear over the next few months that foot-and-mouth is ineradicable, short of ordering the death of every hoofed creature in the kingdom, we may have to reconsider the option of vaccination as the least bad option. And we should do this not least because of the effect of foot-and-mouth on the tourist industry, large parts of which will not survive another year of this.

We have not arrived there yet, but soon ministers may have to consider vaccination: an honourable U-turn in the face of a disease that seems virtually unbeatable.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Sauce Recruitment: Partnership Sales Executive - TV

competitive + benefits: Sauce Recruitment: An award-winning global multi-media...

Sauce Recruitment: Account Director

£26017.21 - £32521.19 per annum + OTE $90,000: Sauce Recruitment: My client is...

Recruitment Genius: Linux Systems Administrator

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This leading provider of UK Magento hosting so...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Development Manager - North Kent - OTE £19K

£16000 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A unique opportunity has arisen...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

I loathe the term ‘hard-working people’. It's patronising, snobbish and wrong

Simon Kelner
Auschwitz death camp survivor Jadwiga Bogucka, 89, holds a picture of herself from 1944  

Holocaust Memorial Day: This isn't the time to mark just another historical event, but to remember humanity at its worst

Jennifer Lipman
Woman who was sent to three Nazi death camps describes how she escaped the gas chamber

Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary

Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea