Tuesday, 7 August 2007

Foot and Mouth Disease

Foot and Mouth Disease, eh? Things just aren't going well for Gordon Brown, are they? Less than two months after forcibly extracting Limpet Blair from his perch in Number 10, he's had to deal with a bunch of inept-but-worrying terrorists, floods of almost Biblical proportions, and now Foot and Mouth Disease. Why did he want this job, again?

Still, no matter how badly things may be going for Gordon (and therefore for the public), I can't help feeling sorry for the farmers caught up in this latest fiasco, not least because this outbreak appears to be less an Act of God than and Act of Man. According to the Telegraph, the current Foot and Mouth outbreak almost certainly originated from the Pirbright labs close to where the infected cattle were discovered.

Astonishingly, bods from the Health and Safety Executive have torn themselves away from the pressing business of bath towel research, to produce an interim report on this incident. Broadly, the report concludes that airborne contamination from Pirbright was very unlikely, waterborne contamination was more likely but still a negligible possibility but that contamination due to human movement was a real possibility. Specifically, the report says:

"There are various potential routes for accidental or deliberate transfer of material from the site. We have investigated site management systems and records and spoken to a number of employees. As a result we are pursuing lines of inquiry."

"Release by human movement must also be considered a real possibility. Further investigation of the above issues is required and is being urgently pursued."

The keywords here seem to me to be "accidental or deliberate" - the idea that somebody may have deliberately released Foot and Mouth into the environment is chilling, but, in view of recent terrorist activity, not all that fanciful.

Indeed, the possibility does not seem to have been lost on the mainstream media either, as the Times reports here, and the Independent reports here. I'm not sure whether accidental or deliberate contamination is the preferable alternative, but, for Mr Brown, neither one presents an appealing prospect. He must be wondering why he ever moved out of Number 11.

Billy Seggars.

1 comment:

L said...

I hope it's not as bad as last time. I was only a small child and I can still remember the last outbreak. The poor sheep and cows :(