CATTLE FOOT-AND-MOUTH: SURVEYING THE SHAMBLES
© Rae West 2001
foot-and-mouth: mass slaughter of cattle
— CONTENTS —
Introduction: Meat and Macro-Swindles
1. How Dangerous is Foot and Mouth Disease?

      1.1 How Dangerous to Cattle?
      1.2 How Dangerous to People?
2. Is it a Viral Disease?
      2.1 Arguments For
      2.2 Arguments Against
3. Reliable Diagnoses?
4. Mass Slaughter Sensible? Vaccination?
5. Social Psychology Possibilities
6. What Should Farmers Do?
7. Internet Links
E-mail     Big-lies Home Page

Introduction: Meat and Macro-Swindles
*I've included these emails, from an old hard disk, to illustrate the complexities of these issues, and also the ease with which a few officials can make absurd policy decisions. And also how easy it is to spread absurd rumours and ridiculous ideas. This material might be read along with 'HIV/AIDS' material, nuclear sceptics material, war lies material, and so on. My best guess now (2015) is that there was a campaign by Jews in the USA along with Jews in the EU and science hierarchies to ruin competing beef suppliers; following on the policies of the sort in Stanko's The Score*
Rediscovered emails from Richard of Ops 'r' Us.
Thu, 22 Mar 2001 18:42:23 and other dates
Dear Rae,
Good to hear from you. have not seen your site yet but it is clear that we are being given a lot of false information about F&M. I had a call in the early days suggesting that Nick Brown used the word "deliberate" in his earliest TV interviews - later cut out. This fits with other information I was given from the same source. Apparently the disease appeared in 4 countries on the same day and MAFF were busy trying to arrange the sourcing of wood and wooden railway sleepers both here and in Belgium two weeks before the outbreak.

Additionally the information given suggests that this is a "Weapons Grade" virus deliberately designed with seven sub-types to prevent the possibility of control by vaccination.

My information is that our officials tell us that there are 17 different strains of the virus but this seems to be only part of the story. Without genetically engineered weapons grade virus there were over 140 different strains held by Wellcome in 1973 with 33 different sub-types. "No cross-immunity is exhibited between types, and only partial cross-immunity between sub-types within a type." is the phrase used and the immunity afforded by a vaccine only lasts for 6 months. It was claimed that the cost of compensation for slaughter was actually cheaper than a vaccination programme.

Apparently word from a member of the press is that orders have gone out that no mention of the warnings about the impending F&M outbreak given to MAFF should appear in the press.

MAFF issued warnings to farmers about insuring against such diseases in the Farming Press on January 11th and then on 1st February gave the same advice with a web address - maffweb/animalh/diseases/impact.htm. In the same paper it was suggested that the EU beef crisis threatened to bankrupt the CAP.

February 15th brought the news that the EU was proposing beef quotas and was to force the UK to perform new tests for BSE and at the same time that "exports vanish as BSE fears go global." Then came F&M and we import the German beef despite BSE concerns.

The BSE fires are destroying the evidence of the real cause of BSE.

Now we have reports that the Government is planning to lift the restrictions on live imports into the UK after the crisis, presumably in attempts to re-stock from the assumed "clean" EU herds which could also be harbouring BSE...

So, trying to follow the money, who benefits from the failure to control the disease?

I first thought it was the EU because they would rid Europe of what they believe to be the source of BSE (didn't the Queniborough "experts squirm?") and scrapie, and open up the UK to their imports. That would not explain the outbreaks in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Portugal, France and Holland as now the whole of Europe has lost its export market to the US. Then there is Argentina, which has always had F&M problems but has suddenly had a new resurgence of the disease. So that leaves the USA and Canada as the only beneficiaries. Since they have land borders any outbreak in Canada would adversely effects the USA so Canada remains clean. Then yesterday I received the e-mail which follows this message.

Of course there is another aspect to this. If we allow imports of Beef from the US which has been fed GM feeds and injected with hormones then we will have no chance to ban their use here. If we vaccinate all the animals twice a year the pharmaceutical and chemical companies will benefit over and over again. That money again???

However I still think this is an EU policy problem and I can see no other reason why they are not properly controlling the outbreak. Not killing infected animals for weeks and then leaving infected carcasses about for even longer so that predators can spread the infection far and wide is madness and designed to spread the disease which is obviously not as wind-born, save for the fires perhaps, as they claim. There are no cases following plumes in the wind direction, not even from the original outbreak.

I did see the site you mentioned. Not sure of the science there but I understand that F&M is a rhinovirus, apparently containing RNA as its nucleic acid, which can kill up to 5% of adult animals, according to Black's Veterinary Dictionary 1979. It is obviously very harmful to production or would not have been developed as a weapon! I don't understand why the Government says that humans can enter the countryside freely because apparently the human nose can host the virus for up to 48 hours so humans can be a spreading vector which is why the vets who have diagnosed the disease are not allowed to check new farms for some days after contact with infected stock. Hides, hair, wool, hay, straw, sacks, clothes, milk, manure, cats, dogs, hares, rabbits, rats, mice, birds, rivers and vehicles can all spread the disease which explains why we have a spreading pattern around confirmed cases but does not explain why they are moving dead animals into uninfected areas. A man from Cheshire was complaining that they were carting dead bodies to a rendering plant in Cheshire where there was no disease. Now there is disease in Cheshire.

MAFF are to blame for this no matter where it started or how. They were warned years ago that we had set ourselves up for a F&M disaster but sailed blindly on at full speed.

I had an argument with an expert milk buyer about the dangers years ago and was told that the answer to farming's ills was bigger units - the most vulnerable.

Why are they now killing healthy animals and then sending them to rendering plants while we still import meat every day? It must be to reduce stocks of meat???

I had best stop now - makes me angry! Any comments on the following from 3rd party?

Will look at your info. ASAP.

All the best,

Richard.
Dear Rae,
Had a look at your web site. Very interesting!

Another theory for you. It has been suggested that experiments involving F&Mwere being performed on the MIR space station for military purposes. This comes from the same source as reported the purchase of wood by MAFF before the outbreak and that it was a military weapons grade virus. He seems to have inside information and asked me if I knew anyone who could give details of the position of the orbit of MIR at any one time. Are there any web sites that you are aware of?

Apparently the virus was jettisoned before the craft was brought down in the hope that it would burn up through the atmosphere???

No idea if it is true but apparently the virus turned up on the same day in several countries and the orbit coincides??? I don't know.

Anyway you asked for comments on Foot and Mouth after reading your web site and they follow - sorry it is lengthy but hope you find the information useful.

I think the class war theory is a non-starter as the rich get compensated and the poor get unemployed!!! The tagging of animals is for recording purposes and to ensure accurate treatments, feeding, weight, and breeding records with the added burden of EU regulations for traceability which don't work! I suspect it is the bureaucrats and not farmers who are idiots, dishonest, scheming etc!!!!

I suspect the rising numbers of animals slaughtered at each outbreak is not because the control method does not work but because each time the disease is beaten they think it will never come back and so after each outbreak fewer units survive and the remaining ones get bigger and more vulnerable. Anyway I had best not go on too much!

All the best,

Richard.
Foot and Mouth Disease

Our officials tell us that there are 17 different strains of the virus but this seems to be only part of the story.

Without genetically engineered weapons grade virus there were over 140 different strains held by Wellcome in 1973 with 33 different sub-types. Apparently the virus is the smallest known, about 10,000 times smaller than the smallpox virus but like all viruses it needs living tissue in order to multiply.

"No cross-immunity is exhibited between types, and only partial cross-immunity between sub-types within a type." is the phrase used and the immunity afforded by a vaccine only lasts for 6 months.

This view is supported in information found in the Encyclopaedia Britannica (1956 issue) which even then recognised the complexity of the disease and suggested that there were at least 6 different known types of the virus and that recovery from the virus did not provide permanent resistance even to that strain and none at all to all the other types. At that time immunisation was said to provide protection only to the specific type, but not necessarily to variants within that type, for just 4 months while recovered animals were susceptible after a year.

Diagnosis of type was said to be important and was an expensive procedure until 1952 when Pirbright announced a test to determine type which took only a few hours. However they state that there are recorded instances where a virulent variant overcame the protection of a vaccine of the same type.

Black's Veterinary Dictionary 1979 reported that there were 7 known types which were recognised at that time.

Three were known to have caused outbreaks in Britain, O, A and C while four others, Asia, Sat 1, Sat 2 and Sat 3 which were then confined to Asia and Africa.. Apparently the sub-type O1 was responsible for the 1967-1968 outbreak in the UK and an outbreak in 1966 was caused by the A22 type virus.

There is much discussion over the real harm caused by Foot & Mouth Disease and some commentators seem to describe the effects as "little more than a common cold". In the 1963 publication "Farming", published by Caxton, Volume 2, page 629, a general view of the symptoms following inhalation of the virus describes lameness, infection of diverse organs due to the circulation of virus in the blood stream, the formation of separate infections within the same animal by different virus types, high temperatures, blisters and in pigs the feet may be severely affected causing the hooves to frequently fall off, causing great pain. The condition in sheep resembles foot-rot from which it must first be distinguished.

Both publications mentioned above refer to the mortality rate as generally below 5% in adults but this may rise to 50% in young stock and with "malignant forms of the disease." "In those animals which survive, great losses in weight occur because the animals cannot eat. In surviving milk animals the flow is sharply diminished. Abortions and mastitis are common. Secondary infections are frequent, especially about the feet."

Reports that the disease may not have been so serious may arise from the difficulty in diagnosis in the days before science "progressed". There are two other vesicular diseases which may appear similar to Foot and Mouth Disease. They are vesicular stomatitis and vesicular exanthema. Animal tests were used to determine which virus was present. Horses do not suffer with Foot and Mouth Disease. Cows and guinea pigs do not suffer from vesicular exanthema but pigs apparently do and mild forms occur in horses but vesicular stomatitis can affect all four. It followed then that if the symptoms occurred only in sheep, pigs and cattle then foot and mouth would be a suitable diagnosis as the other viruses would likely have affected different species and had no effect in others. Diagnosis is obviously not as easy as some would suggest and so reports that animals overcome the disease without lasting effects may stem from incorrect diagnosis of the virus concerned. There is a prevailing attitude amongst some modern scientists that they should treat the symptoms without first determining the cause. We have found this exact approach with the victims of organophosphorus poisoning with disastrous results and a similar attitude is exhibited by those who suggest that the treatable symptoms of magnesium deficiency indicate a diagnosis of the untreatable and fatal condition BSE. Such attitudes represent neither sound science nor good medicine and can, and do, lead to disaster.

Foot and Mouth disease almost always appears suddenly and spreads rapidly, entering the blood stream of the infected animal causing fever and being excreted in saliva, milk, urine and faeces after 24 to 36 hours - usually before the symptoms of the disease become apparent. The majority of animals show symptoms between the 2nd and 6th day following infection but lesions can take 10 days to appear in pigs and up to 5 in cattle and sheep with an average of half that time. The blisters are reported to burst, releasing highly infective yellowish serum, leaving raw areas beneath which disappear after about 6 days but the animal refuses dry food due to the pain and is able only to drink and eat very soft foods.

The virus can survive out of the host for a very long time. Reports suggest that it can remain active in hay for 30 days, in the frozen bone marrow of stored beef and pork for up to 76 days, and in frozen liver or kidney for 4 months or more which is why the rules on heating pig swill insisted on ensuring that the material was heat treated by boiling for at least an hour before feeding to livestock. It is reported that Foot and Mouth can survive for up to six months in dried meats. The virus is resistant to many standard disinfectants.

Since the virus may be inhaled it is clear that it can be spread by air movement but there seems to be no evidence of how far such diseases can be spread by the wind. The 1981 outbreak on the Isle of Wight was said to be brought on the wind from vaccinated animals in France but there is no real evidence for this. In fact the farm I ran was inside the restricted area as the outbreak was just up the road from us. We have a problem over where it came from though - and how it got here. The winds were blowing towards France until the 18th March that year when they reached gale force and were coming from the West and then moderated to south west by the 20th March. The first word that Foot & Mouth was suspected came on the 21st and followed reported outbreaks in France and the Channel Islands. By the 22nd Foot & Mouth was confirmed and 166 cattle were slaughtered along with 240 on nearby farms but we saw nothing of the Ministry vets until 25th March. Buy the 5th April suspect cases were reported in the biggest dairy herd on the Island and another some 5 miles away but they were not confirmed. The all clear was sounded and we went our merry way but the claim that this was carried on the wind was never really accepted by the locals. To reach that farm from France the virus would have passed over several large herds of cattle and flocks of sheep at higher levels and in more direct line than the infected herd. It seemed unlikely. Recently I was talking to a former salesman who had contact with both the farm and other sources who told him that the disease was brought in on a boat by drug smugglers who had travelled from Algeria. The farm was near a beach often used by yachtsmen so it did make some sense but we were never informed of the real source of the disease.

Examination of the recent UK outbreak does not support cases within the plumes of the prevailing wind said to carry the disease. The Ministry denies that the fires which lift infected material high into the air can spread the disease although this was suspected as a spread vector in the 1967 outbreak. What we see today is a spreading mechanism consistent with the action of predatory animals and birds which feed on the unburied carcasses and move on to uninfected farms carrying the disease with them. Hides, hair, wool, hay, straw, sacks, clothing, milk, manure, cats, dogs, rabbits, rats, mice, birds (also migratory and especially those which feed on carrion), streams and vehicles can also transit the disease. The movements of all these can explain the current spread pattern.

It would appear that there is much evidence to support the Foot and Mouth Disease as being a virus and although claims are now made that no virus has ever been isolated it was reported in 1973 that 120 strains of the virus had been adapted for growth in baby hamster kidney cells (BHK21). Although the ELISA tests and other methods of testing for proteins have thrown up false positives and false negatives it would appear to be unrelated to Foot and Mouth research. BSE is not a conventional virus and there is therefore no comparison. The fact that vaccinated animals were even suspected as carriers of the disease responsible for outbreaks in France seems to suggest that the disease is a very virulent virus which can behave in a similar manner to polio, which can also be caused by the polio vaccines. Carriers can appear to be free of the disease and yet transmit it to others which is why there are vaccination risks. The rules imposed on the vets who have to deal with the virus outbreak add further weight to this since they must refrain from visiting uncontaminated farms for some days after working on infected animals. This is because the human nose can harbour the virus for up to 48 hours and although the host is unaffected that virus could be transmitted to healthy animals.

The risk from contaminated vaccines is apparently very real - and not only from the Foot and Mouth vaccine itself.

Reports suggest that Foot and Mouth has been known for some 2000 years but the evidence for its existence has only been available since the 17th and 18th centuries. It was apparently first seen in England in 1839 and spread throughout Britain with 11 more outbreaks from 1839 to 1902 but each outbreak was stamped out as it occurred. Re-infection always came from outside of the UK, exactly as has happened on this occasion - we assume.

The USA had its first outbreak in 1870, again via imports from Britain via Canada and other outbreaks followed in 1880, 1884 again caused by imported livestock which was then banned. This did not stop the disease reaching the USA as further outbreaks occurred in 1902, 1914 and 1924 as the result of the import of contaminated hay and other materials but perhaps more importantly as the result of contaminated imported smallpox vaccine.

It was claimed in 1973 that the cost of compensation for slaughter was actually cheaper than a vaccination programme. The relative values of vaccines and compensation costs may well have altered beyond recognition since those days but it is clear that meat can transmit the infection which is why there are restrictions on the import of meat from countries where vaccination is practised into countries free of the disease. In the recent swine fever outbreak in the UK it was found that the disease may well have started with a discarded sandwich.

Concerns have been expressed recently that diseases such as Ebola, TB, polio and yellow fever could be entering the UK daily through the illegal smuggling of meat from Africa in order to supply the tastes of ethnic groups.

It would seem that some suitcases drip with the blood from the illegal meat and yet customs officers allow it through. As it is clear that even the living animal may be infected before signs of the disease can be seen much of this meat could contain dangerous diseases. Other countries including the USA and Germany are far more strict in their efforts to protect the health of their people.

The theories as to how the current UK outbreak began are numerous. It would be too easy to say that the disease is due entirely to bad farming practices. This cannot be the case because the disease was not normally found in the UK. The cause of the disease must lie in the practice of importing infected material from overseas. In other words it is Government policy which caused the outbreak either directly through allowing imports or indirectly by not ensuring that import restrictions were enforced by sufficiently staffed and managed customs checks and quality controls.

This is not to say that the farming practices employed in the UK have not made the otherwise controllable outbreak a major disaster. The movement of animals, unregulated transfer from owner to owner, the reduced number of slaughter houses which force ever larger transport lorries and collections from numerous farms on a single journey, and imported meats are all designed to encourage rampant disease spread as proven by the current crisis. The refusal of MAFF to listen to the warnings given to them years ago and the ever more nonsensical orders from Europe, embraced by our civil Service, set up the UK for this disaster.

Worse than that is the apparently incompetent way in which the control methods have been implemented.

Diseased stock left standing for a week or more is a recipe for further spread of any infectious disease. To kill those infected animals and leave them to rot at the mercy of the predatory animals and birds known to spread the disease which will wander or fly for miles around the countryside seems guaranteed to ensure disaster.

To kill healthy animals in order to create a "fire break" effect around the areas of most contamination will be pointless unless all the flighted carriers are also destroyed and the bodies of the dead disposed of more rapidly.

How the government of the UK can justify destroying the meat from healthy animals when at the same time they continue to import meat from potentially infected areas of the world is something that few will understand since it is clearly the import of such meat which caused the problem in the first place.

Meanwhile the fires continue to burn at massive cost to the tax-payer. One fire alone reportedly required some 290 tonnes of coal, countless sleepers and tonnes of straw, diesel oil to assist the fire and hours contracted to vets, slaughtermen, digging machinery, and disinfecting teams. The cost of replacing the lost stock, the destroyed meat, hides and wool, bankruptcy hearings, the compensation to farmers and the losses to other industries dependent on the countryside will be simply enormous and yet the Government suggests that there is no crisis.

Apparently the word "deliberate" was used to describe the start of this outbreak by a government minister. Some suggest that animal rights activists hoping to turn us all towards veganism were responsible, others that it was Saddam's revenge. Others wonder if, as with brucellosis, E.coli and anthrax, the MoD has been out and about spraying disease over their countrymen again - and there is some evidence to suggest that this may be the case. Others suggest that experiments were being performed on the MIR space station which involved the Foot an Mouth virus and that they were jettisoned in the hope that the virus would be destroyed on re-entry to avoid risks should the landing go wrong - and some say that the timing of the outbreaks and the trajectory fit with that theory.

Yet another theory suggests that the outbreak is a means to ensure the culling of scrapie sheep and BSE cattle which the farmers would never have permitted with disease other than Foot and Mouth and another theory is that the CIA were attempting to open up the European market to the hormone injected and GM fed beef from their antibiotic dependent feed lots by destroying the opposition. The advantage to that theory is that Europe would then have to accept the GM foods it has so far been able to keep out. Following the money and the way that multi-national companies work also indicates that if there is an uncontrollable outbreak in Europe then there may be a cry for vaccination to be employed. This would be a very lucrative sales opportunity for the drug companies but some theorists suggest that the vaccinations or other contaminated drugs may themselves have caused the disease.

All of this is speculation but all are possible explanations. Unfortunately the only people in possession of all the information necessary to discover the truth are MAFF officials who, as with BSE, are not always truthful.

While the Government hotly denies the allegations, reports have been made that their officials were searching for supplies of wood and wooden railway sleepers from UK suppliers and in Belgium some two weeks before the outbreak. This, together with reports that the virus is one of "Weapons Grade" deliberately formulated with 7 different strains to make vaccination impossible, would indicate prior knowledge of the impending outbreak and that it was no accident. Only those involved will ever know the truth and they will not be telling.

One thing is certain and that is that Foot and Mouth is feared around the world. So much so that it is reported that in 1946 the United States and Mexico combined forces in order to eradicate the disease in Mexico. They are said to have employed 8,200 workers at the height of the campaign with costs running at over a million dollars a month and the final eradication was achieved in 1952. How much would such an operation cost today?
Public Health Authority Urges Inquiry in Foot-and-Mouth Slaughter: Raises Spectre on Industrial Espionage. Sandpoint, ID

Could the outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease effecting global beef markets be an act of industrial espionage rather than nature? Could Tyson Foods Corporation, the world's leading meat supplier be behind the deadly slaughter? These are serious questions being raised by a leading American public health authority, Dr. Leonard Horowitz, a Harvard graduate and the author of several books on infectious diseases.

Many Americans can recall the hoopla over Hillary Clinton having made more than $100,000 virtually overnight in the swine futures market in 1998. The tip came from James Blair, chief counselor at Tyson Foods. The Springdale, Arkansas-based company showered gifts for favors upon Clinton administration officials including former Agriculture Secretary Mike Espy. Don Tyson was one of Bill Clinton's 'closest friends and biggest supporters,' according to grand jury testimony concerning Tyson political misconduct. Don Tyson was Bill Clinton's top fundraiser during his gubernatorial and presidential elections.

The grave possibility that the international foot-and-mouth disease outbreak stems from a Tyson plot is documented in Healing Codes for the Biological Apocalypse (Tetrahedron Press, 1999; ISBN: 0-923550-01-1) in which Dr. Horowitz explored little known facts about 'mad cow disease' outbreaks. Suggesting a new form of 'bioterrorism' to facilitate what past CIA Director James Woolsy called 'industrial espionage,' Dr. Horowitz considered the fortuitous fear campaign that facilitated Tyson's takeover of the Hudson Beef Company in 1997 after the latter's stock dropped in value 35% due to an alleged E. coli contamination that was never confirmed. The doctor's suspicions were based on a review of a U.S. Congressional Record that showed E. coli had been one of the principle germs manipulated by the CIA, and James Woolsy's statement, 'With the end of the Cold War, the CIA must enter the era of economic [or industrial] espionage.' In the language of espionage, French columnist Paul Javanovic explained, this meant 'the CIA will henceforth do many services for American enterprises which take the trouble to ask it for help' in both counterespionage and espionage itself.'

Regarding the foot-and-mouth outbreak, a similar ruse was proposed involving Tyson only months following their Hudson Beef takeover. This time it was a chicken influenza 'outbreak' in Asia. In December 1997, the Associated Press reported that a 60-year-old woman had died of 'suspected bird flu.' The U.S. Government immediately announced it would halt 'all chicken imports from China in a move to curb the spread of the virus.' Days later, pressured by the media and foreign governments, 1.2 million Asian chickens were slaughtered to allegedly prevent the flu from spreading to other countries and species.

'Few knew that prior to these events,' Dr. Horowitz wrote, 'Tyson was vying to bring the Asian poultry industry into its global monopolistic fold. The emergency primarily targeted Tyson's Asian competition farmers. What was most likely a CIA-directed 'outbreak' conveniently required the annihilation of Tyson's competitors. That would have been a very effective, albeit immoral, industrial espionage operation.'

On March 15, 2001, USA Today reported that Tyson Foods stands to gain most from the current foot-and-mouth disease problem. They had four times tried to purchase America's leading beef supplier IBP Corporation, most recently for $3.2 billion, or $30 per share of stock valued at only $24.11. The international slaughter of cattle, the article said, was sure to reduce IBP profits making Tyson's offer even more appealing.

Dr. Horowitz, in support of the British Farmers for Action, is calling for an immediate halt to the slaughter of uninfected herds, and an investigation by the British government officials into the possibility that the entire foot-and-mouth disease outbreak was premeditated.

[Back to Start]
1. How Dangerous is Foot and Mouth Disease?
      1.1 How Dangerous to Cattle?
The first point to grasp is that bovine foot and mouth disease is endemic in many countries. I've heard India, Turkey, Southern America, and Southern Africa cited, though I haven't attempted to check, or to check whether the disease definitions have suspicious local variants as with 'AIDS'.
      Possible outbreaks in the last few years include Uruguay [a website says 5,000 cattle slaughtered], Taiwan in mid-1999, where 158 cattle were slaughtered 'on suspicion'. [See Animalnet link, which is news slanted by agribusiness; I've collected the links together at the end]. Towards mid-2000, Uganda and Korea and Japan had outbreaks. 'Animalnet', commenting on Japanese travellers being disinfected etc, states that Canada's early 1950s outbreak 'cost the federal government $890,000 to fight and an additional billion dollars in estimated livestock losses.' Note that the reasons for the 'estimated' losses aren't stated; the reader is presumably invited to assume the cattle died horribly as a result of the disease, not as a result of slaughter. The problem is that if this is true, why aren't there enormous losses in countries like India? If it's so dangerous, how is it possible that it can be endemic? For that matter, FMD is reported to have been imported into Britain from time to time during the 19th century (as sea transport became cheaper). Why didn't millions of cattle die?
      The second point to grasp is the complete ignorance of farmers, vets, and most other people, in countries usually without this disease. Most farmers, even those specialising in beef, have never seen a case. Textbook authors presumably quote earlier textbook authors. They are therefore not in a strong position to reason about it. Even British farmers who remember the 1967/8 outbreak cannot (legally) have seen a single case of the progress of the disease, since all detected cattle were supposed to have been killed, along with all the other cattle in their herds. It's widely believed that cattle which recover are emaciated or enfeebled, and produce less meat and/or milk; I'll attempt to deal with this later.
      My third point is that it seems widely agreed that the disease isn't harmful to people; there seem to be no claims of deaths, and few of illness, in countries where it's now endemic, nor do there seem to have been any in 19th century Britain.
      An interesting dissident article appeared in the Sunday Times, 4th March 2001. ‘Slaughter of the Innocuous’ by Abigail Wood, who is employed by the Wellcome Trust, a huge organisation which claims to be entirely separate from the drug company. Wood's piece is rather confused: she seems not to know, among other things, that Britain doesn't export beef now anyway, because of fear of BSE. And she seems irrational in her support of the slaughter policy, given her claims:— she says foot-and-mouth isn't dangerous: ‘.. in the 1920s [a] bad outbreak in Cheshire [England] was on the verge of running out of control. Ministry [of Agriculture] teams were so far behind in their slaughtering that on many farms the cows had recovered from disease before the slaughterers arrived. And farmers looked at the now-normal cows.. “.. Was that rather trivial illness what all the fuss was about?” ..’ However, she gives no source for her information, which might be considered rather important. A subheading, not necessarily hers, states foot and mouth is as serious as a bad cold is to human beings. And she states as a fact that beef and milk production are reduced, but states that there are no figures to support this! It's difficult to see how figures can ever have been compiled in modern conditions—say since at least 1920—because of the slaughter policy. The official US view [see July 1998 Veterinary Services website] says FMD is ‘a severe, highly communicable viral disease... causes severe losses in.. production.. Meat animals do not normally regain lost weight for many months. Recovered cows seldom produce milk at their former rates...’, again presumably based on pre-1929 information, or foreign countries, or just guesswork.
      (Wood seems to have been copied by Geoffrey Lean, in the Independent, on the same date—‘.. shake it off in two or three weeks.. raises a slight temperature and a few blisters’—though he thinks BSE is a much more dangerous disease to people, and yet there was no policy of slaughter: the officials therefore should be got rid of).
      Wood's articles seem to have had some effect in Britain: there was a media accounts e.g. of a cow's tongue 'falling out', i.e. its outer layer peeling off as a result of Foot and Mouth; presumably as evidence to suggest that it's dreadfully dangerous after all. Most sites take a similar line [for example, Savanna Link an Australian on-line magazine for Dec 98/Jan 99, downloadable as a pdf file, say 'feral [wild] pigs are a risk' and the 'disease would be a catastrophe' in Australia, but without evidence.] However, there are some which contradict this view. [Indigenous Knowledge Development Monitor quotes a 1996 book: ‘.. Fulani pastoralists in Northern Nigeria ... consciously manage foot-and-mouth disease. It took Western veterinary scientists until 1967 to discover that the causative virus could be transmitted through the air. By this time the Fulani had already been protecting their cattle for years by passing downwind of an infected herd’ [i.e. supposedly to give the cattle a small, non-dangerous infection. The Maasai seem to do the same—see Steve Ransom's site.]

[Back to Start]

      1.2 How Dangerous to People?
As we've seen, it seems fairly harmless to people considered as a disease. Is it harmful in food? At present, beef is imported from areas where FMD is endemic. The active virus (see later!) is supposed not to be found in meat, but only in e.g. bone marrow, so meat from affected cows is allowed provided it has no bones in it. So the economic argument—that meat from animals in FMD-affected areas cannot be sold—seems to be nonsense. I'm told (by Jose MacDonald) that vets secretly question this rationale of slaughter, but aren't permitted to voice their doubts. In any case, at present, British beef isn't exported, because of the fear of BSE.

[Back to Start]
2. Is it a Viral Disease?
      2.1 Arguments For
No bacteria have ever been isolated. It appears to be infective; therefore it must be a virus. Because of the way it spreads, the virus must be airborne. Anyway, everyone says it's caused by a virus!
[Back to Start]

      2.2 Arguments Against
These resemble those related to 'HIV'. In the first place, no virus seems ever to have been isolated, much less subjected to the Koch's postulate process of experimental infection. [See Steve Ransom's site www.whatareweswallowing.com on this; Ransom took the trouble to phone various organisations, for example the Pirbright Institute of Animal Health, to check on this and other points.]
      Viruses are supposedly detected by electron microscopy. Unfortunately there are problems with this. For example, they all appear same size, rather than with some of them sliced up. (Another well-known picture of a rocket-ship style virus is the only one picture ever produced). In fact, the uniformity suggests that electron bombardment generates the images, hence explaining the geometric forms, dodecahedra and so on, which appear in the computer-generated pictures. The ‘protein coat’ is also, for similar reasons, highly doubtful.
      This leaves tests relying on proteins—ELISA and PCR (polymerase chain reactions) appearing to be the main types. [See websitelinks on all this.] The Phillips Report on BSE has material on ELISA tests in the simpler case when e.g. sheep muscle proteins are to be detected: rabbit is injected and antibodies to this antigen supposedly used as basis of test. Even so, numerous startling errors are recorded by Phillips, which records the official story of the attempts to get ELISA to work, including a striking false positive for salseed, and false negative for meat and bonemeal.
      But things are much more difficult with FMD, because there's no comparable isolated substance to inject. Instead, extracts supposedly containing the virus (or which there are supposed to be many strains) have to be used, from animals which have to be unquestionably identified as having FMD. Therefore there must be a lot of doubt whether ELISA is reliable. To put it in simple language, their record is so bad that the tests must be assumed to be defective.
      [The idea that the 'virus' can be harboured in the human nose seems to have originated in Pirbright. Other examples of ELISA's application can be seen on Food & Agriculture websites, in African countries—shades of 'HIV'?—with Pirbright ELISA or PCR tests. An Indian site is interesting as claiming an ELISA test based on air samples. It also says that ‘.. policy of animal slaughter is difficult to adopt, the disease can only be controlled by regular vaccination of animals supported by early diagnosis, proper disposal of animals and restricted animal movement. However, currently available vaccines are effective for only short durations...’ So here we have a country with endemic foot-and-mouth, no mass slaughter policy, and yet, presumably. most cattle free from the disease.]

Another possibility is environmental circumstances of various kinds, perhaps with a virus (or other undetectable agent).
      Thus the climate and feeding may play a part. So far as I can tell, UK outbreaks, including the present one, occur in winter or early spring in bad weather; if you were standing around in cold and wet, eating old food, you too might get gum and foot problems. (So far, 2001 has been the wettest on record in the UK). And the airborne virus idea is needed to explain the wide dispersal; but what about all the intermediate farms which remain unaffected? Could it be something like scurvy, where poor nutrition shows itself in extremities where oxygen and other nutrients are more difficult to reach? Or something more subtle—anti-vitamins, or mineral deficiency. (I remember being informed by a slaughterman that magnesium deficiency cases are now diagnosed as 'BSE'). In fact, the current outbreak is supposed to have been started in a Northumberland farm in which conditions were so bad the neighbours complained three times, and an animal charity wanted MAFF (Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, and Food) to prosecute and isolate the farm; MAFF refused. Or contaminated pharmaceuticals—though this would be difficult to reconcile with the idea that the disease was first imported into Britain in the 19th century. However, the disease might not have been imported at all, but be related to changes in 19th century management—for example, the adoption of vaccination in cattle, in an analogous manner to the possible introduction of Kaposi's sarcoma in south-east Europe after amyl nitrite started to be used as a heart disease treatment.
cattle without foot and mouth[Following extract from Green Carpet by Louise E Howard (pubd. 1947 in US), apparently based on the ideas of her late husband, Sir Albert Howard, who farmed in India:—]
Three different sets of work-cattle, respectively six, three, and twenty pair, were found to be astonishingly resistant to disease, including infective disease. The degree of resistance amounted to a practical immunity and was indeed amazing; the cattle were never segregated or in any way protected and all inoculations and preventive measures were sternly refused. Now the animal population all round was heavily infected by foot and mouth, Johne's disease, septicaemia, etc., the result in the Indian cattle of insufficient feeding, but even the cattle on the experimental animal farm at Pusa succumbed; with these cattle the draught beasts were seen on more than one occasion to rub noses over a fence.
      One accidental case of snake-bite, from which the animal recovered, and one very slight case of foot and mouth, which was also cured by ordinary care, occurred; otherwise there was no disease of any kind. In view of the supposedly virulent nature of the infective diseases with which contact was constantly being made, this record is astonishing; the whole period covered was nearly thirty years (Pusa 1910-1923, Quetta 1910-1918, Indore 1924-1932). The explanation cannot be mere sufficiency of feeding, for the diseased cattle kept on the experimental farm at Pusa were certainly adequately fed.
      The draught animals which showed this high degree of disease-resistance were fed off quality food; here the distinction lay. Their feed was derived entirely from the land at the disposal of the scientific department which had asked for them and at the same time taken care to acquire an area of land on which enough could be grown for their maintenance. In accordance with the policy to be pursued in crop-growing all land had been brought to the highest state of fertility, and the chain of health thus started had communicated itself, first to the plant and then to the animal; these, like the crops, proved perfectly able to resist infections. As though to prove the point, when in the first year at the third Station, in 1925, quality food ran rather short because there had not been time to get sufficient crops sown, the animals slightly lost condition; the mild case of foot and mouth already mentioned then occurred.
      With the putting in hand of the full crop and soil fertility programme the danger was past and did not recur. The condition of these animals was so beautiful that they were in constant demand for religious processions, to the pride and pleasure of the staff.

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3. How Reliably is Foot and Mouth Diagnosable?
The United States Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has a webpage on Foot-and-Mouth Disease which helpfully provides a list of ‘similar but less harmful domestic diseases [all presumably endemic in the US] such as vesicular stomatitis, bluetongue, bovine viral diarrhea, and foot rot in cattle... Whenever blisters or other typical signs are observed and reported, laboratory tests must be completed to determine whether the disease causing them is FMD’. There's no indication how often such reports (of ‘slobbering or lameness’) are made, nor what the 'laboratory tests are—presumably ELISA or something similar. (For the history of failure of ELISA, see section 2.2 above). The fact that such tests are deemed necessary proves that misdiagnosis is a significant possibility. Another difficulty is that, in normal times, the mouths of cattle aren't likely to be examined unless they're off their feed or otherwise behaving oddly. When vets and others are specifically on the lookout for such signs, it's possible that cases will be found, and determined to be FMD, which would not be picked up at other times. This might also help explain the apparent pattern of radiation from a centre, as obviously animals near an outbreak will be examined more carefully than those far off. (I'm told—though this seems not to be everyone's opinion—it's not easy to examine the mouths of cattle, particularly if they're ill: these animals are very strong and need to be moved to and impounded in a metal structure—you can't just walk up to them and poke about. And their feet tend to be covered in mud, stones, and other bits—blistering is hard to detect). Another possibility—suggested by the fiasco of 'AIDS', where symptoms and signs are differently defined in different countries—is that the diseases are, in fact, different. The website I've quoted in India, for example, gives ‘salivation and high fever’ as signs, and doesn't mention mouth blisters or ulcers. However, in the official world, there are no doubts. A Steve Ransom quotes a Pirbright official, interviewed on the phone: ‘.. finally located the Head of Diagnostics, John Anderson. He informed us that while the ELISA tests were manufactured in-house ".. of course they were accurate."’ Yet another problem is that vets, if they believe the disease is potentially devastating, must be terrified of missing a case, and therefore biased towards quick action, after which, of course, all the evidence is gone.

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4.Is Mass Slaughter a Sensible Policy? What About Vaccination?
foot-and-mouth: mass slaughter of cattleIt doesn't seem possible to answer this question without more information than is publicly available. This is a problem for politicians—largely of their own making, since they have supported the policies of secrecy. Some considerations are:—

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5. Some Social Psychology Possibilities

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6. What Should Farmers Do?
This depends on their own perception of whether this disease is genuinely dangerous or not; and if it is genuinely infectious. If you doubt either of these, you're in a position analogous to someone told to fight in a war he has good reason shouldn't be fought. You presumably have some moral entitlement to save your cows. The element of doubt comes from the fact that MAFF and other official organisations cannot be relied upon to tell the truth, or for that matter to know it. Moreover, they are legally protected to such an extent that no amount of fraud would lead to penalty; they have absolutely nothing to lose. (This Guardian item claims they even tell lies about simple things like the value of exports). 'AIDS' in the US provides an interesting comparison: people, mainly male homosexuals, have learnt to deal with the propaganda by collecting benefits where possible, and also by throwing away the 'medication' they are given. The cattle equivalent presumably is to not report animals which may be sick, to give them time to recover, and to try to ensure that any ELISA test would give a negative reading. This is, presumably, best done by giving the cattle the best possible food and supplements and the gentlest treatment, so their blood proteins are as 'normal' as possible. (An opposite but riskier, strategy might be to give a strange diet and aggravate the animal, so it shows up as obviously abnormal).

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7. Internet Links (same sequence as the text...)

foot-and-mouth: the sleep of reason. montage (c) Rae West

Note: Some links may not work [Back to Start]

© Rae West 2001

First Upload 2001-03-18 as http://www2.prestel.co.uk/littleton/ek4_foot_and_mouth.htm. Revised 2001-04-07, 2001-05-13
Keywords: FMD, foot and mouth, foot-and-mouth, mass slaughter, cattle, farming, beef, virus, infection, panic, hysteria
The 'burning pit' pyre photo is credited to Murdo MacLeod (in the Guardian).
Holocaust revision note: the size of the pits, numbers of wooden railway sleepers and quantities of coal make interesting reading