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The BBC's Catherine Marston
"An area now gripped by the disease"
 real 56k

Chief veterinary officer, Jim Scudamore
"The important thing is, we get on top of it"
 real 56k

The Bishop of Bradford, the Rt Rev David Smith
"The farmers concerned have not had nearly enough attention and care"
 real 28k

The BBC's John Thorne in Settle
"They believe they've been ignored"
 real 56k

Tuesday, 22 May, 2001, 17:43 GMT 18:43 UK
Farm disease cluster sparks alert
Cows
The disease was only spotted when it appeared in cattle
Extra vets and troops are being sent to tackle an outbreak of foot-and-mouth in North Yorkshire.

The area around Settle has seen 17 confirmed cases of foot-and-mouth since 10 May, the most recent on Tuesday at a farm in Kirby Mallam.

The government is being criticised by farmers for failing to act quickly enough over the outbreak.

The government's chief veterinary officer, Jim Scudamore, called it "a very serious outbreak".

Foot-and-mouth facts
Total number of confirmed foot-and-mouth cases in the UK 1,628 - Three on Tuesday
3,003,000 animals slaughtered
78,000 animals awaiting slaughter
26,000 carcasses awaiting disposal

An extra 25 vets are being drafted in, and more troops are being sent to Settle to oversee the culling operation.

Settle landowner John Henderson said: "When our hotspot started nobody seemed to want to know. It may be politically inconvenient - but I think nature probably is.

"We feel the scale of what is happening and what is likely to happen is not being appreciated," he told BBC Radio 4's World at One.

Shadow agriculture minister Tim Yeo accused Tony Blair of tyring to sweep the crisis under the carpet.

"We are confident now that the figures are being massaged to reduce the number of reported cases," he said.

"Tony Blair does not care how much damage he does to farming as long as he gets his majority back on 7 June."

But Mr Blair defended his government's handling of the crisis.

"What we said was that the numbers of cases were coming down very considerably, as they obviously have done," he said.

"But we also warned at the time that there would carry on being some cases of foot-and-mouth disease and that it was vitally important that people carry on taking the measures of security and safety to make sure the disease does not spread.


It may be politically inconvenient - but I think nature probably is

John Henderson
Settle landowner
Officials now believe the disease has been in animals in north Yorkshire for three weeks.

The Bishop of Bradford, the Rt Rev David Smith, told BBC Radio 4's World at One programme that the foot-and-mouth crisis was a tragedy on a massive scale but farmers felt people did not really care about it.

"The farmers concerned have not had nearly enough attention and care.

"When they turn on the television or read the newspapers it is full of the general election, it is full of people selling themselves.


Nobody appears to be listening and nobody appears to be caring for them

Rt Rev David Smith
Bishop of Bradford
"Nobody appears to be listening and nobody appears to be caring for them."

The Ministry of Agriculture has said the cluster is a "localised" outbreak, not connected to the widespread movement of infected animals.

Maff admits the outbreak was only identified once it began appearing in cattle, and could have been present in sheep for "some weeks".

It has reimposed movement restrictions on livestock in the Settle and Clitheroe areas, while investigators attempt to trace the source of the latest cluster.

A ministry spokesman said: "We believe the movements of animals and perhaps people are partly behind this latest outbreak."

Jim Scudamore said the new outbreak was being taken very seriously.

"We are trying to track down the common link between all of the cases," he said. "It is a very serious outbreak."

There have been 1,628 reported cases of foot-and-mouth in the UK, resulting in the slaughter of millions of animals, since the first cases were confirmed on 20 February.

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See also:

22 May 01 | Vote2001
Farming row erupts
22 May 01 | Sci/Tech
Foot-and-mouth: A moving target
20 May 01 | UK
New cases dent optimism
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