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Tuesday, 16 July, 2002, 10:48 GMT 11:48 UK
Q&A: Foot-and-mouth report

BBC News Online answers the questions that follow on from the Royal Society report into the scientific issues raised by the 8bn foot-and-mouth disaster in the UK.

Q: What is the Royal Society's main recommendation?

A: A policy of emergency vaccination should be considered to help contain any future outbreak of foot-and-mouth.

Q: Why?

A: Evidence seen by the Royal Society inquiry indicates vaccination could help eradicate the disease in 30 days - and stop an outbreak becoming an epidemic.

Q: So what role would mass slaughter have?

A: This would still be part of the containment measures. All the animals on an infected farm would be killed and restrictions on livestock movements would be introduced - as they were last year. It is on neighbouring farms that vaccination would be deployed to help stop the disease spreading any further.

Q: Would all susceptible animals be vaccinated?

A: No. The Royal Society rejects routine vaccination as long as the risk of disease entering the country remains low.

Q: So how far-reaching should the policy be?

A: The Royal Society recommends emergency vaccination within a 10-kilometre (6.2-mile) radius of any outbreak.

Q: Won't that damage exports?

A: Vaccination would not delay the resumption of exports much longer than a slaughter-only policy, according to the Royal Society, following a change in rules by the Paris-based international animal health body, the Office International des Epizooties.

Q: On what information are the recommendations based?

A: A 15-strong panel, chaired by Professor Sir Brian Follett, visited different parts of the UK talking to experts including chief vet Jim Scudamore, chief scientist Dr David Shannon and the government's chief scientific advisor, Professor David King.

Q: But what do farmers think?

A: National Farmers' Union (NFU) president Ben Gill says future outbreaks should continue to be controlled by mass culling until the vaccine and testing facilities to distinguish between vaccinated and infected animals improve.

Q: When will that happen?

A: The Royal Society is asking Britain and other European Union states to make a major effort to ensure emergency vaccination can be used by the end of next year. And it wants the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) to approve a test to distinguish between vaccinated and infected animals by then.

Q: How will that happen?

A: The Royal Society recommends the establishment of a Centre of Exotic Animal Diseases - independent of the government's Institute of Animal Health at Pirbright, Surrey - at a cost of between 220m and 250m.

Q: What happens next?

A: The Royal Society is asking Parliament to debate and approve its recommendations. It says the plans should be rehearsed every year and reviewed every three years.



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16 Jul 02 | Science/Nature
19 Mar 01 | UK
04 Aug 01 | Science/Nature
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