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Farron welcomes research that suggests mass cull for Foot and Mouth may now not be needed.

May 13, 2011 2:24 PM

TF ruralMP for the South Lakes, Tim Farron has cautiously welcomed research published in the journal Science which suggests that a mass cull after a foot and mouth outbreak maybe now unnecessary.

A new analysis of the disease suggests that future outbreaks might be controlled by early detection and killing only affected animals.

The scientists stated in their report that the policy of mass slaughter during the 2001 UK outbreak was not wrong. Until recently, vets had assumed animals could be infectious while they carried the virus that causes foot-and-mouth for up to 8 days.

However, by exposing calves to infected cattle and closely monitoring them, researchers discovered that the period of infection was less than two days. The researchers also discovered that animals were not infectious until they showed symptoms of the disease.

These results suggest that any future outbreak could be brought under control by closely monitoring animals and slaughtering them as soon as they become ill. This approach is in contrast to the policy adopted to bring the 2001 epidemic under control.

Commenting, Tim said: "I think this research is a useful starting point but we must do everything to prevent any further outbreak. But for farmers this is positive news because if ever there was another outbreak it we should do everything to avoid the horrendous mass culls of last time."