UK: New FMD virus leak
At Pirbright scientific research laboratory run by Merial Animal
Health, the source of this summer's FMD outbreak, another leak of the virus
occurred last week, as stated in a report in The Times newspaper.
Rural Affairs Secretary, Hilary Benn, assured parliament that the virus has
not made its way into the environment.
A faulty valve within the research institute's drainage system is the cause
of the leak. However, it is highly unlikely that the FMD
virus has spread to farm animals.
Maintenance works on faulty effluent pipes
had been carried out. A heat facility to treat waste from virus production had
also been installed. All effluent was channeled to a treatment plant to
deactivate the virus and the area above the drains had become a controlled area.
On Monday, however, suspicions were raised due to the lower quantity of virus
from production batches. Merial discovered a faulty valve on a pipe used to
separate the live virus from waste product.
Operations at the plant were immediately halted and citric acid was used to
disinfect any virus that may have been released by the pipes.
Concern among farmers
News of the leak has prompted concern among farmers as Merial's licence had
just been renewed on November 6.
The pharmaceutical company's licence was suspended and a team of experts from
DEFRA, the Veterinary Medicines Directorate and the Health and Safety Executive
paid a visit to the site on Wednesday.
President of the National Farmers' Union of Scotland (NFUS), Jim McLaren is
quoted as saying that "shutting Pirbright down is the result of an inability to
deal with such a dangerous virus. The government is ultimately responsible for
the consequences of failures on the site which it licenses. The first outbreak
had a terrible impact on farmers, but for this to happen within two weeks of
Merial regaining its licence is not acceptable".
It is ironic that the leak occurred at the same time Mr Benn was discussing his
plan at a farming conference in London to make farmers bear
some of the costs of animal disease outbreaks.
â€¢ Defra - Foot and Mouth information
â€¢ The Times
the latest pig news, subscribe here
To comment, login here
Or register to be able to comment.