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BBC Scotland's Willie Johnston reports
"This cull is Scotland's strategy for beating foot-and-mouth"
 real 56k

Rural Affairs Minister Ross Finnie
"We really need, very urgently, to get a handle on the possible source"
 real 56k

Wednesday, 28 March, 2001, 18:15 GMT 19:15 UK
Animal disease spreads in Scotland
Burning of animals
The number of cases continues to rise in Scotland
The first case of foot-and-mouth disease has been confirmed in the Scottish Borders, just outside the area containing all other Scottish cases.

The Scottish Executive said the case was confirmed at Sorbietrees farms, Newcastleton.

Four other new cases were confirmed in Dumfries and Galloway on Wednesday, taking the Scottish total to 97.

Up until now, all of the confirmed cases in Scotland have been in the Dumfries and Galloway area.

Rural Affairs Minister Ross Finnie described the Borders case as a "worrying development" and said officials were trying to trace how the spread had occurred.

Confirmed farms in Scotland include
97 cases on 28 March
Lockerbie (15 cases)
Canonbie (13)
Gretna (17)
Lochmaben(4)
Twynholm(3)
Langholm
Beattock(6)
Corrie
Ruthwell(5)
Tundergarth(2)
Moffat (3)
Dalton(2)
Torthorward
Mouswald(6)
Hightae(3)
Kirtlebridge(2)
Creca
Collin(2)
Kirkpatrick Fleming(2)
Annan (3)
Troqueer
New Abbey(2)
Haugh of Urr
St Anns
Eastriggs(2)
Ecclefechan
Newcastleton

He said: "This is a blow. Obviously we're very concerned about it. We're dealing with it and we're also trying to see whether there is any link with cattle movements or tracings we have.

"We really need, very urgently, to get a handle on the possible source and the method by which the disease has transmitted itself.

"This is a very worrying development."

Mr Finnie said officials had "high hopes" that the disease had been contained, although concerns still remained.

Asked whether he would review the Scottish Executive's policy of animal containment, the minister said he would wait for information from officials investigating the Borders case.

He also stressed that there were no immediate plans to introduce a programme of vaccination of animals, but has not ruled it out as an option.

Mr Finnie said: "There are a lot of considerations and there are two particularly difficult aspects to this.

Ross Finnie
Ross Finnie: Worrying development
"Either you vaccinate purely as a firebreak policy and then proceed at a later stage to cull those animals or you vaccinate and you then have a problem of foot-and-mouth perhaps being a permanent feature within the herd."

But Ian Anderson, the man in charge of the Scottish Executive operation in Dumfries in Galloway, said contingency plans for vaccination were being drawn up.

However, there was evidence that these would be strongly resisted by farmers.

Mr Anderson said: "If I get advice that (vaccination) needs to be done then I don't want any delays in bringing it in.

"So if we're ready and that is the advice on what we need to do then that can be done very, very quickly."

However, Robin Spence, of the National Farmers' Union of Scotland in Dumfries and Galloway, said: "The fact is that is if you vaccinate animals, you've then to slaughter them at a later date.

'Saving resources'

"So you're neither saving animals, nor are you realistically saving resources and you're going to ask people to feed animals for goodness knows how long and look after them knowing that they will be slaughtered eventually."

As the new cases came to light, efforts to contain the disease in Scotland continued.

Work has been under way on a burial site for sheep being slaughtered in a pre-emptive cull aimed at creating a firewall round the areas where the disease has been found.

Diggers and earth moving machines have been preparing the 25-acre site five miles south of Lockerbie.

However, it was confirmed that the site would not be ready by Wednesday as planned.

Heavy rain has delayed work and it is now hoped the site will be ready on Thursday.

Officials have stressed that the burial site at Birkshaw Forest will not pose a risk to public health and said there was no need to worry about environmental pollution.

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See also:

27 Mar 01 | Scotland
Pit prepared for animal burial
26 Mar 01 | Scotland
Soldiers tackle cull ordeal
25 Mar 01 | Scotland
Rare breeds slaughter protest
15 Mar 01 | Scotland
Foot-and-mouth 'could cost 20m'
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