Chief Veterinary Officer Jim Scudamore yesterday wrote to Michael Sheldon Chief Executive of the National Pig Association. Copy of letter follows:

Michael Sheldon Esq
Chief Executive
The National Pig Association
PO Box 29072
London
EC2H 8QS

Dear Mr Sheldon

CLASSICAL SWINE FEVER – ESSEX SURVEILLANCE ZONE 01 AND THE EXPORT BAN

As you know, Commission Decision 2000/528/EC would permit export of live pigs and pig semen from Essex to resume from tomorrow, 15 September, conditional upon the UK informing the Commission and Member States by today that:

(i) there have been no further outbreaks of CSF in Essex; and

(ii) that all the clinical and laboratory examinations carried out on holdings where CSF has been suspected and all other holdings located in the protection and surveillance zones established around the infected holding have given negative results.
The assumption underpinning condition 9(ii) is that the Infected Area would as a result have been lifted.

I have however informed the Minister and the Commission of my conclusion that, before the surveillance and protection zones in Essex can be lifted, it would be prudent for veterinary staff to undertake a further round of visits to all holdings with pigs in the zones, to be certain that the area is genuinely free of CSF.

My reasons are twofold. First, we have introduced more rigorous procedures for “clearing” holdings in the protection and surveillance zones around other infected premises. Essentially, these require that a greater number of pigs be clinically examined and tested for CSF. They were introduced when it became apparent that in other surveillance zones the required number of tests may have been insufficient to pick up developing secondary disease. We do not propose to engage in a further round of blood testing; clinical examinations would suffice. But we do need to be confident that no cases of CSF exist in the zones before they are lifted.

Second, we have just confirmed CSF on a holding outside Essex which has some potential links with premises in the Essex infected area. Whilst, at present, we have no reason to believe that infection has been re-introduced, we cannot overlook that possibility.

We are of course acutely aware of the concerns of pig farmers in Essex, as in Norfolk and Suffolk, that restrictions upon them should be lifted as soon as is practicable. You will have seen the statement I issued after our meeting last Friday about the need for caution in the light of the secondary outbreaks of disease. No doubt NPA and other interests will want to discuss that at tomorrow’s industry meeting.

The Essex Infected Area will therefore remain in place for the time being. As a result the ban on live exports of pigs from Essex will stand until 15 October; the position on the disease will of course be reviewed in the Standing Veterinary Committee on 3-4 October.

We shall in the meantime be proceeding with the programme of veterinary visits to clear the Essex zone. Subject to satisfactory results, which may inevitably be somewhat delayed by current fuel difficulties, I hope that this process can be completed reasonably soon. That would remove all the remaining domestic restrictions on movement, slaughter and placing on the market, subject only to the EU export ban.

I understand that there may be expectations in Essex that the Infected Area may be on the point of being cleared. That is not the case. I should be grateful if you could do what you can to pass this information on, as we shall be doing ourselves. I am accordingly releasing this letter and placing it on the MAFF website.

I am sending a copy of this letter to Richard Macdonald, Director General NFU.

Yours sincerely

J M Scudamore
Chief Veterinary Officer

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