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BBC Scotland's Willie Johnston reports
"The first Scottish case was identified in Lockerbie in March"
 real 56k

Thursday, 7 June, 2001, 14:14 GMT 15:14 UK
Farmers' leader hears disease fears
Foot-and-mouth farm in the Borders
Scotland suffered 187 cases of foot-and-mouth disease
Scottish farmers' union leader Jim Walker has been visiting Dumfries and Galloway to hear from grassroots members how the industry can be regenerated.

It is 100 days on Friday since foot-and-mouth disease arrived in Scotland.

The disease has caused despair in farming communities and much of the rural economy has been brought to its knees.

And though the farm plague appears to be in retreat, health professionals have warned that the emotional scars will be long-lasting.

Members of the National Farmers' Union Scotland gave Mr Walker a clear account of the situation to take back to politicians on the specific needs of Dumfries and Galloway.

NFUS Jim Walker
Jim Walker heard from farmers
Union members who have lost stock due to foot-and-mouth met him in Dumfries on Thursday.

Since the first Scottish case at Lockerbie on 1 March there have been 187 confirmed cases across Dumfries and Galloway and the Borders.

In total about 1500 farms have lost 750,000 animals.

The immediate trauma and grief may have passed but health professionals fear farming families - and others involved in the mass killing - may be entering a new and vulnerable phase.

When the hectic period of the slaughter and clean-up is over, they will have time to dwell on what has happened and that could lead to mental health problems.

Post-traumatic stress

GPs are already reporting signs of a kind of post-traumatic stress syndrome.

Welfare teams operating out of the foot and mouth "bunker" in Dumfries are prepared to spend at least a year dealing with the emotional fall-out.

And after 100 days, there is no guarantee the disease itself will not come back.

Scottish farms minister Ross Finnie has warned against complacency and stressed the need for continued vigilance.

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See also:

23 May 01 | Scotland
Vigilance plea after new cases
15 May 01 | Scotland
Joy as sanctuary gets reprieve
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