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Vets Mark Foot and Mouth Anniversary by Protesting Budget Cuts

19 February 2016, at 12:00am

UK - On the 15th anniversary of the foot and mouth disease (FMD) outbreak, the British Veterinary Association (BVA) has emphasised the vital role of vets and veterinary surveillance in protecting the UK from devastating disease outbreaks.

The outbreak (confirmed in an abattoir on 19 February 2001) involved the slaughter of more than six million animals causing dire emotional and financial impacts on farmers, vets and rural businesses.

Vets from across the profession, including those not working with livestock, were called upon to assist with disease control.

BVA is marking the anniversary by asking the government to reflect on the vital role of vets and veterinary surveillance after Defra was asked to make a further 15 per cent budget cut in last year’s Autumn Statement (November 2015).

Commenting, BVA President Sean Wensley said: "15 years on from the devastation of the 2001 outbreak the UK must remain vigilant for Foot and Mouth Disease, but important lessons learned mean we are now better prepared if another outbreak does occur.

"Today we would have an immediate standstill on livestock movements, improved traceability systems and the possibility of using vaccination as part of the overall control strategy.

"But we cannot be complacent and the anniversary is an opportunity to reflect on the vital role of vets and veterinary surveillance in protecting the UK from disease.

“In recent years we have seen the impact of significant cuts to Defra's budget on veterinary fees for TB testing and other OV services.

"Vets’ frontline roles must be recognised and supported, backed up by an effective, coordinated system of data capture that will enable us to make the necessary links to detect and control new disease threats.

"We can never be free from the risk of disease, and in recent years the emergence of Schmallenberg and re-emergence of Bluetongue have brought new challenges. It is essential that we have the coordination and capability to identify and diagnose in order to protect our national herd and flock.”

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