You are here:

ARCHIVE: Notifiable Disease Archives

2008 - Avian Influenza H5N1 confirmed in wild birds in Dorset, January 2008

Following cases of highly pathogenic avian influenza (H5N1) in wild birds in Dorset, the Secretary of State declared on 10 January 2008 a Wild Bird Control Area and a Wild Bird Monitoring Area around the place where disease was confirmed. As of 27 March, the Wild Bird Monitoring Area and associated disease control restrictions put in place have been lifted. Further information...

2007 - Highly pathogenic avian influenza (H5N1), Diss, Norfolk, November 2007

Highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza was found at a infected premises near Diss, Norfolk in November 2007.   

A 3km Protection Zone, a 10km Surveillance Zone and a wider Restricted Zone covering the whole of Suffolk and most of Norfolk around the Infected Premises and movement restrictions were applied. Poultry was required to be isolated from wild birds. Further information...

2007 - H7 avian influenza near St Helens, Merseyside, England, May 2007

Tests provided positive results for low pathogenic avian influenza in poultry on a non-commercial small holding near St Helens, Merseyside, England. Birds at the holding were purchased from the same market held in Chelford on Monday 7th May associated with the recent outbreak of H7N2 low pathogenic avian influenza in Conwy, North Wales. Further information...

2007 - H7N2 Low Pathogenic Avian Influenza in Corwen, Conwy, North Wales, May 2007

On 23 May 2007 a case of H7N2 low pathogenic avian influenza was confirmed in Corwen, Conwy, North Wales. A 1km restriction zone was put in place around the infected premises, in line with the avian influenza Directive. On 15th June, the Declaration made on 24th May 2007 was revoked and all restrictions around the premises were lifted. Further information...

2007 - Avian influenza disease outbreak - Holton, Norfolk.

On Saturday 3 February 2007, highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza was confirmed on a poultry farm in Holton, Suffolk. A 3 km Protection Zone and 10 km Surveillance Zone were imposed along with a wider Restricted Zone.

At 00:01 on 12 March 2007 the restrictions around the farm in Holton were lifted. Only the movement of meat produced from birds originating within the PZ that were killed prior to the PZ merging with the SZ will need to continue to be licensed and reported. Further information...

2006 - Avian influenza disease outbreak

On 28 April 2006 H7N3 Low Pathogenic Avian Influenza was confirmed on a poultry farm in Dereham, Norfolk. The Veterinary Laboratories Agency carried out further investigation and confirmed on 4 May 2006, that the virus is a low pathogenic strain, ruling out the presence of the high pathogenicity strain in the flock.

On 29 April 2006 tests provided positive results for avian influenza in chickens on two further poultry farms near Dereham, Norfolk. On 5 May the Veterinary Laboratories Agency confirmed that the virus was H7N3 Low Pathogenic Avian Influenza.
H7 does not transmit easily from human to human. In almost all cases of human H7 infection to date, the virus, in both low and high pathogenic forms, has only caused a mild disease. Therefore at this stage this is a virus which only has extremely limited implications for human health.

The two restriction zones surrounding the three premises in Norfolk where low pathogenic H7N3 avian influenza was found were lifted at 10.00am on 26 May 2006. The decision was taken after all appropriate surveillance and tracing had been completed and clinical and laboratory testing had found no further positive results. 21 days had passed since the completion of cleansing and disinfection. Further information...

2005 - Newcastle disease outbreak

On 15 July 2005 an outbreak of Newcastle Disease (ND) was confirmed in pheasants on a premises in Surrey. ND is a highly contagious disease of birds caused by a paramyxo virus.

Following cleansing and disinfection of the infected premises, surveillance visits to premises within the infected area and no further reports of suspected disease, it was decided that infected area restrictions could be lifted on 25 August 2005. Further information...

2001 - Foot and Mouth Disease outbreak

Foot and mouth disease (FMD) is an infectious disease affecting cloven-hoofed animals, in particular cattle, sheep, pigs, goats and deer. The disease is serious for animal health and for the economics of the livestock industry. While FMD is not normally fatal to adult animals, it is debilitating and causes significant loss of productivity; for example milk yields may drop or the animals may become lame. In young animals it can be fatal on a large scale.

The UK last experienced the disease in 2001 when 2,030 cases occurred between February and September. Further information...

1963 - Voluntary Vaccination against Newcastle Disease

Up to 1963, the Ministry had relied on a policy of slaughter and stamping out to control outbreaks of Newcastle Disease. The Committee of Inquiry into Fowl Pest Policy recommended on 29 March 1962 that "an attempt be made to combine the policy of slaughter with the voluntary use of dead vaccines to limit the losses from this disease".

The MAFF Report on the Animal Health Services for Great Britain 1964 noted:

"The policy of slaughter and compensation for fowl pest (Newcastle disease) ceased in England and Wales on 31 March 1963 except in respect of peracute Newcastle disease and fowl plague. It was replaced by a policy of control by the voluntary use of inactivated vaccine which was issued by the Ministry at a subsidised price. There were seven outbreaks of subacute Newcastle disease in Scotland where the policy of slaughter with compensation continued for all forms of fowl pest, although vaccination (not subsidised) was permitted."

The 1965 MAFF Report on the Animal Health Services for Great Britain added: "The period for which the Ministry has undertaken to provide inactivated vaccine at subsidised prices to poultry keepers , in order to initiate and encourage its voluntary use for the control of fowl pest (Newcastle disease) in England and Wales, ended on 31 March 1965. From that date vaccine was distributed through normal commercial channels, and although no longer subsidised, sales have increased. This indicates that the advantages gained from vaccination have been recognised, and that the use of vaccine has become a regular part of most poultry keepers normal husbandry".

1954 - Atrophic Rhinitis- notifiable for nine years

Atrophic rhinits was made notifiable in Great Britain on 21 May 1954. Affected pigs were slaughtered. Compensation was paid by MAFF for infected animals at half the market value: in all other cases it was the market value of the animal immediately before slaughter. Controls on the disease were revoked on 27 November 1962.


Atrophic rhinitis is a disease of pigs characterised by sneezing followed by atrophy of the tubinate bones, which may be accompanied by distortion of the nasal septum, and shortening or twisting of the upper jaw. Outbreaks usually occur from mixing of pigs from different sources. Crowding, inadequate ventilation, mixing and moving, and other concurrent diseases are contributory factors.

The first outbreak

From the 1954 Annual Report of the Chief Veterinary Officer

"For the first time on record, the existence of atrophic rhinitis in pigs was confirmed in Britain. Although this disease is not normally fatal, young pigs may die. Pigs that recover from the disease, whether they have shown symptoms or not, may continue to be infective. The disease spreads as a result of the introduction of infective stock, and as infection builds up in a herd the effects of the disease on growth and thriftiness become more and more apparent. Unless prompt steps are taken to check the spread of infection, the disease is one that could have very serious economic effects on the pig industry.

"The first pig found to be affected was a boar, the progeny of a Landrace gilt imported from Sweden in September, 1953. Later, the disease was diagnosed in two litter sisters. These three pigs were the sole survivors of a litter of ten. It was decided to adopt a policy of compulsory slaughter. Two Orders were made under the Diseases of Animals Act, 1950. The Atrophic Rhinitis Order, 1954 came under force on 21st May, and the Atrophic Rhinitis (Compensation) Order, 1954 on 27th May, 1954.

"It was considered necessary to trace and inspect all imported Landrace pigs, their contacts and their progeny. Some 514 premises were placed under restrictions for this purpose. On the three farms to which the three infected pigs had been moved, there was evidence of spread of infection; other pigs were found on post-mortem examination to have lesions of the disease. The dam of the infected pigs have been slaughtered although it showed no evidence of infection, but transmission tests on piglets produced symptoms of rhinitis.

Altogether there were four outbreaks; some 919 pigs were slaughtered and £22,149 was paid in compensation. Salvage of carcasses realised £5,804. As occasionally the disease does not show itself until the second generation, a close watch has been kept, but it is hoped that the prompt measures which were taken will succeed in eradicating the disease before it becomes established".

Atrophic Rhinitis: Import Restrictions

When the existence of atrophic rhinitis was first confirmed, arrangements which had been made for a limited importation of Landrace pigs into Scotland from Sweden were cancelled. A ban was imposed on the import of all swine, except for immediate slaughter, from the Channel Islands and Northern Ireland, in view of the presence there of imported Swedish Landrace pigs. The relevant Orders, which came into operation on 2nd June, 1954 were the Prohibition of Landing of Swine from the Channel Islands Order, 1954 and the Prohibition of Landing of Swine from Northern Ireland Order, 1954.

The Order affecting Northern Ireland was revoked on 9th August, as the Ministry was satisfied that the measures taken by the Government of Northern Ireland had removed any risk of introducing the disease from that country. The Order affecting the Channel Islands was still in force at the end of the year.

Removal of controls

From the 1962 Annual Report of the Chief Veterinary Officer.

"Since the first case of atrophic rhinitis in this country on 19th May, 1954, outbreaks have remained few and have steadily declined in numbers each year after 1956. The last recorded outbreak occurred in August 1960, and, in 1962, it was decided that the policy of slaughter which was introduced in 1954, should no longer apply and that the disease should no longer be notifiable by law.

" Experience has shown that the disease did not cause undue losses or have any significant effect on growth or food conversion rates, and that it was not of such economic importance as had been feared. Such control as might be necessary in the future could be maintained by ordinary intelligent culling. The Atrophic Rhinitis Order 1954 and the Atrophic Rhinitis (Compensation) Order 1954 were therefore revoked on 27th November 1962".

Outbreaks of Atrophic Rhinitis


Cases confirmed

Pigs Slaughtered

1954 4 919
1955 8 1,201
1956 11 2,335
1957 9 2,621
1958 5 2,554
1959 2 517
1960 1 212
1961 - 1
1962 - -

1912 - Parasitic Mange - a disease eradicated by treatment

This disease of horses, asses and mules was made notifiable by the Parasitic Mange Order of 1911 which came into operation on 1 January 1912. This Order is noted in the Annual Report issued by the Board of Agriculture and Fisheries for 1912 as "regularising the procedures as regards notification, to be enforced by the Local authorities." During the year 1912 there were 2,873 outbreaks of the disease reported, of which 2,758 were detected in England, 41 in Wales and 74 in Scotland. The total horse population in Great Britain in June 1912 was put at 1,611,277.

The annual report noted that statistical comparison for outbreaks in previous years were not available, but evidence gathered during the year suggested that "some progress has been made in certain of the districts of the local Authorities in which the figures are comparable owing to the fact that a similar Order was in operation locally in 1911." For example, in Essex the number of outbreaks fell from 241 in the previous year to 86; in London there was a reduction from 630 to 582, and in Surrey there were 19 fewer outbreaks. The improvement was not universal, however: in Lancashire the number of outbreaks rose by 227, by 39 in Cheshire, and by 25 in Middlesex.

Affected animals had to be isolated and treated "in accordance with directions given by the Veterinary Inspector with some dressing or other remedy for such disease approved for the purpose by a Veterinary Inspector, or by a veterinary surgeon employed by the owner of the animal". A detention notice could be removed when the inspector was satisfied that all horses, asses and mules on the infected premises were free from parasitic mange and when the premises had been satisfactorily cleansed and disinfected.

The MAFF Annual Report on Animal Health services for the years 1949 to 1951 notes: "Since the first Parasitic Mange Order came into operation in 1912 there has been a fairly steady decline in the incidence of parasitic mange in equines, and 1949 was the first year in which there was no outbreak. No outbreaks occurred in 1950 and 1951, and this disease can therefore now be added to the list of notifiable diseases which have been eradicated".

Only one further case of this disease was confirmed, in South Glamorgan in 1977. Controls on the disease were finally removed by the Parasitic Mange (Revocation) Order 1983 (SI 1983 No. 1401).

The following table shows the progressive reduction in the number of outbreaks:

Outbreaks of parasitic mange




Equines affected

1912 68 2,873 6,008
1913 68 2,382 4,647
1914 69 1,530 2,642
1915 53 933 1,995
1916 65 2,147 4,689
1917 72 2,614 4,873
1918 74 4,483 8,422
1919 80 5,003 9,773
1920 76 3,551 5,778
1921 70 2,055 3,108
1922 66 1,036 1,455
1923 63 796 1,126
1924 60 664 950
1925 52 513 810
1926 59 433 645
1927 44 348 564
1928 51 280 578
1929 42 204 392
1930 39 201 300
1931 39 139 237
1932 36 127 204
1933 38 132 225
1934 31 115 191
1035 32 99 222
1936 35 111 254
1937 33 115 179
1938 20 46 76
1939 22 36 79
1940 14 19 47
1941 15 21 56
1942 17 28 69
1943 8 9 14
1944 7 8 23
1945 5 6 6
1946 6 7 8
1947 1 1 2
1948 1 1 1

Last outbreak 1977
NB : The Parasitic Mange Order was suspended from 6 August 1914 to 27 March 1915 inclusive.

1900 - Foot and Mouth Disease

There had been a low incidence of foot-and-mouth disease in Britain for several years since 1887. The last outbreaks in this country before 1900 had been three cases in 1894.

From the annual report of the Chief Veterinary Officer, Mr A C Cope, for the year 1900:

"The first intimation of the existence of foot-and-mouth disease in England was received on 24 January from the police at Fritton, a village in Suffolk on the borders of Norfolk. One of the most experienced and well-known veterinarians in the east of England was at once instructed to visit the farm and report as to the nature of the disease. To my great surprise he reported that the disease was undoubtedly foot-and-mouth, and that the affected animals were cattle, in which the symptoms of foot-and-mouth are so characteristic that it is hardly possible for an experienced man to be deceived in his diagnosis. In view of the fact that the country had been free for years and that the veterinarian employed expressed a wish that I should also examine the animals. On the following day I examined all the diseased cattle and had no hesitation in confirming the nature of the disease: in fact, every animal had obviously been affected with the disease. At the time of my examination of the cattle I found that most of them had recovered from the disease, each animal bore distinctive evidence of having been affected in the mouth, the stage of vesication had passed before my arrival, and the parts where the vesicles had existed on the tongue, pad, and inside the lip, had so far recovered that new covering had been developed on them. Some of the animals had also been affected in their feet and a few were still lame; in these cases there was separation of the horn from the hoof at the heels.

"In nearly all the cows there was evidence of vesicles having existed upon the teats and udders, indeed in the absence of any other symptoms the appearance reminded one of the scars seem following upon an attack of cow-pox. The temperature of every animal in the yard was carefully taken but in only one was it found to be above the normal.

"It was evident from the result of the examination that the disease must have existed among these animals for several days prior to its nature even being suspected, a fact which was admitted by the man in charge who informed us that he had noticed that some of the cattle had great difficulty in feeding at least five or six days prior to my visit, but it was not until the owner visited this, which is an off farm, at the end of the week, that he was instructed by him to give notice to the police if further cases occurred. As all the animals were in a convalescent stage, and the yard in which they were kept was a long distance from any public road, and no other farms or animals were in the immediate vicinity, it was decided to place the premises under strict supervision and isolate the animals pending further enquiries as to the existence or not of other outbreaks in the immediate district. The rigid isolation adopted proved effectual, and there is no reason for believing that any subsequent outbreak arose from this centre after it was first detected.

"On recovery of the animals they were subjected to a thorough cleansing and disinfection. The legs and feet, especially between the claws, were washed with a mild solution of carbolic acid and the mouths were repeatedly sponged with a solution of permanganate of potash. Of the 80 cattle on the premises, 54 fell with the disease, while 490 sheep, kept on a distant part of the farm escaped catching the disease..

This was the only outbreak which occurred in the county of Suffolk in the year, but the disease soon afterwards appeared on some farms in Norfolk".

In total there were 21 outbreaks of foot-and-mouth disease in nine counties in the year, followed by a further 12 outbreaks in 1901 and a single case in 1902. There was then a period of disease freedom until 1908, when foot-and-mouth returned to this country with outbreaks, some on a very large scale, being recorded in most years down to the epidemic of 1967-1968.

1894 - Dealing with swine fever

From: The Annual Report of the Chief Veterinary Officer 1894:

"During the whole of the year a very large part of the time of the veterinary officers has been devoted to the examination of the viscera of pigs slaughtered under the provisions of the Swine Fever Act of 1893, and it is necessary to explain that no pigs are slaughtered as having been exposed to infection until these officers have reported the nature of the disease with which the first or test animal was affected. Immediately on the receipt of information of an outbreak or supposed outbreak of swine-fever, a telegram is sent to a veterinary surgeon residing in or near the place where the disease is reported requesting him to visit and examine the diseased or suspected animal, and if he considers there are sufficient indications of swine-fever he is authorised to slaughter it and forward the whole viscera, including the heart and lungs, to the Board's Laboratory in London. He is also required to fill and forward by the first post replies to a series of questions bearing chiefly upon the history of the animal and the condition of the rest of the pigs on the premises, information which it is calculated will assist the veterinary officers in arriving at a correct diagnosis when reporting upon the post-mortem appearances of the parts forwarded.

"The diseases of swine have in the past been very rarely brought under the notice of veterinary surgeons, for the obvious reason that swine being of small value and generally in the possession of persons of slender means the owners finding their animals to be seriously ill have generally sent for the butcher and not for the professional man - indeed it is doubtful whether a knowledge of the numerous diseases to which pigs are liable would ever have been obtained had it not been for the passing of the Swine-Fever Act. Amongst others the following may be cited as the causes of illness or death of the animals which have been the subject of veterinary examination on behalf of the Board:

"Choking with potatoes, choked in the administration of medicine, overlain by mother, injured and ribs broken, indigestion by improper feeding, inflammation of stomach and intestines, inflammation of liver, cirrhosis of liver, ruptured liver, abdominal dropsy, ruptured stomach, ruptured bowel, intussusception of bowel, strangulated hernia, stoppage of bowel, constipation, diarrhoea, epileptic fits due to worms in intestines, salt poisoning, peritonitis, bronchitis, pleurisy, hydrothorax, pneumonia, congestion of kidneys, rupture of bladder, ruptured uterus, difficult parturition, scarlatina, measles, swine erysipelas, castration or spaying, anthrax, heart disease, internal haemorrhage from ruptured blood vessels.


"In as much as the Board pay compensation for all pigs slaughtered by their order, the owners of swine are ready and willing to give notice of any ailment among their animals, especially when there is any risk of their dying; but many of the diseases included in the above list affect those organs of the body in which swine-fever lesions exist or are supposed to exist.

"Of all the animals on the farm none are so difficult to examine as the pig. Being of an exceedingly nervous temperament they are very difficult to handle, and unless their present symptoms of a very pronounced character, and are obviously very ill, it is next to impossible to determine the nature of the disease with which they are affected without making a post-mortem examination. It cannot therefore be a matter of surprise that errors are often made in the diagnosis of the disease in swine during life."

1873 - What to do about Foot and Mouth disease

The Lessons Learned Inquiry into the 2001 outbreak of FMD was by no means the first inquiry of its kind. As long ago as 1873 the Select Committee on Contagious Diseases (Animals) reported:

"Many witnesses have been examined with regard to this disease, especially as to its recent prevalence both in Great Britain and Ireland, and their opinions have been conflicting, both as regards the amount of loss it causes, and the measures that should be adopted for its diminution.

"Some agriculturalists have recommended very stringent measures, such as the stoppage of all fairs and markets, and of the movement of animals, except by license, as during the prevalence of cattle plague.

"On the other hand, there has been evidence of much weight, both by agriculturalists and by professional witnesses, tending to show that such enactment would meet with strong opposition, and would be difficult, if not impossible, to carry out/

"Your Committee have come to the conclusion that it is hopeless to attempt to extirpate, or even materially to check, this disease unless the above-mentioned stringent measures are strictly enforced: and they also believe that such enforcement would require a costly and numerous staff of inspectors, an amount of supervision by the central authority which would excite much local opposition at any rate in Great Britain, and such an interference in the home trade in animals as would affect prices, and would induce not only the consumer but the producer to consider the remedy to be worse than the disease.

"Your Committee are confirmed in this opinion by finding themselves obliged to believe that the efforts which have been made in many counties in Great Britain to check this disease under permissive orders from the Privy Council to have been of little or no effect; and that a like failure has been experienced by Ireland where it has been attempted to carry out a general order by the help of the constabulary.

"Your Committee, however, consider that the sale in a public place or carriage of animals affected with this disease ought not to be permitted.

"They therefore recommend:

1. That the Privy Council should cease to issue orders for the check of this disease;
2. That Section 37 of the English Act which makes the exposure or carriage of animals affected with a contagious disease an offence, should continue to apply to foot and mouth disease, but owners should be relieved from the necessity of giving notice to the police of the existence of this disease among their stock;

3. But that power should be given to the Privy Council to allow the movement, under proper precautions, of animals so affected, to slaughter, food or shelter, inconvenience having been found to have resulted from the absence of such power.

"All the witnesses who have expressed an opinion on the subject agree that the compensation provided for in the Act is insufficient. It has been urged that it is of the greatest importance for dealing successfully and economically with the suppression of disease to have early discovery of its existence: that this is practically impossible by any system of inspection, particularly as regards pleuro-pneumonia, and that local authorities must trust very much to the co-operation of stock owners, who however, cannot be expected to report disease unless fairly and liberally compensated for their loss.

"The witnesses concur in the belief that a higher rate of compensation would not induce fraud or recklessness; on these grounds, inasmuch as the compensation is paid for out of local rates, the local authority would exercise sufficient vigilance to prevent excessive claims, and that, if farmers were compensated to the extent of even the full value of the animals slaughtered, their indirect loss would still be considerable.

"Your Committee concur generally with these opinions … and recommend that local authorities should be empowered to grant such compensation to an extent not exceeding three-fourths of the loss sustained by the owner, provided that such loss does not exceed 25 shillings for any animal".

1865-7 - The Great Cattle Plague

"A contagious and infectious disorder … has lately appeared and now prevails among cattle within the Metropolis and in the neighbourhood thereof, and it is expedient to take measures for preventing such disorder from spreading…"

(Order in Council, 1865).

In the summer of 1865 a cargo of cattle shipped from the Baltic was the probable source of one of the worst outbreaks of animal disease ever seen in Britain. Known as cattle plague or rinderpest, the infection spread rapidly from Islington to the whole country. Prayers were said in churches and in January 1866 the Archbishop of Canterbury wrote to the Home Secretary begging for the appointment of a day of "national humiliation" to implore divine aid. This request was turned down and statutory methods were employed instead. The Cattle Disease Prevention Act 1866 was rushed through Parliament in a week and became law in February 1866. This ordered the slaughter of infected animals by local authorities, restriction of animal movements, disinfection of premises, and compensation for owners. The plague claimed about 400,000 cattle but the epidemic had ended by September 1867.

The Cattle Plague Department, which had been established in 1865 to deal with the epidemic, began its life as a branch of the Home Office but was transferred to the Privy Council in 1866. Four years later its name was changed to the Veterinary Department and staff continued to administer a series of acts to control other diseases such as foot-and-mouth disease, pleuropneumonia, sheep scab and glanders. Veterinary inspectors were employed at ports of landing and had wide powers of detention and slaughter. At the same time, the number of ports at which animals could be landed was drastically reduced.

Many monuments were raised around the country to the epidemic and the animals which "died without remedy and here lie".


See also


Page last modified: March 3, 2010