Yesterday was a bad day. I was a strumming bag of nerves.
My initial reaction to hearing that FMD was back in the country was like a vicious kick to the solar plexus bringing all the fears, horrors, controls and constraints of the 2001 outbreak flooding back. This, coupled with the extraordinarily difficult summer, was the straw that broke the camel’s back.
This morning, Sunday, it seemed that my worst fears weren’t going to be realised.
But now, I’m not so sure. Having just listened to the latest news bulletin it seems that 120 animals have been slaughtered ‘as a precautionary measure’. I think these were on holdings farmed by the same farmer, though it’s not clear. The chief veterinary officer also appeared more cautious and careful of her words.
What would really help me is the answers to some very simple questions, such as did the farmer go to market in the past week or so? Sell or move any animals? Were there dealers on his farm? These are questions I believe all the farming community would be interested in and could act upon. Of course our biggest fear is that the virus has spread further, and is even now incubating in some ill-fated herd or flock.
Just as with the last dreadful outbreak, there are so many unknowns, and facts and certainties only emerge slowly, desperately slowly. But, at the same time, things have changed so rapidly in the last 36-48 hours that I’m sure that by tomorrow morning, Monday, this situation will have changed yet again. I doubt, though, that they will ever be able to say with any certainty how the virus escaped from the labs at Pirbright.
My heartfelt thoughts are with the poor farmer and his family. For them the worst has happened through no fault of theirs. They have to endure the unwelcome attention whilst at the same time remaining anonymous. It must be so very hard.