ARCHIVE: Foot and Mouth Disease: 2007 outbreak
There were eight confirmed cases of Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) in a very localised area in south-east of England in August and September 2007.
Following extensive surveillance work and there having been no further cases of Foot and Mouth Disease discovered, from 31 December 2007 all remaining movement restrictions relating to Foot and Mouth Disease-susceptible animals and trade within the EU were lifted.
- Veterinary risk assessment (PDF 33 KB)
Investigations and reviews into the outbreak
Foot and Mouth Disease 2007: A Review and Lessons Learned
Sir Iain Anderson (who also conducted an inquiry into the 2001 outbreak) was asked by the Government to chair a review of the Government's reaction to the 2007 Foot and Mouth Disease Outbreak. He was asked to review his lessons drawn from the 2001 outbreak and identify any others arising from the current outbreak.
- Foot and Mouth Disease 2007: A Review and Lessons Learned (Link to National Archive website)
- Government’s response to Sir Iain Anderson’s Review of the 2007 Foot and Mouth Disease outbreak (PDF 1.7 MB)
- Government Statement in response to investigations into the probable release of Foot and Mouth Disease virus from Pirbright (PDF 80 KB)
- Correspondence between Defra, IAH and Merial, referred to in the HSE and Spratt reports (PDF 170 KB)
- Recommendations from the reports (PDF 30 KB)
Sir Bill Callaghan’s review of the regulatory framework for handling animal pathogens
Sir Bill Callaghan was asked by the Government to chair a review of the regulatory framework for animal pathogens, as recommended by the Health and Safety Executive in its “Final report on potential breaches of biosecurity at the Pirbright site 2007”. Sir Bill published his report on 13 December 2007.
HSE investigation of the Pirbright site
Immediate action was taken to investigate the possible link with the Pirbright site through the regulatory framework with a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) led investigation at the Institute for Animal Health and at Merial.
- Final report on potential breaches to biosecurity at the Pirbright site, 2007 (Link to HSE website)
The Spratt Review
An independent review of issues raised by the Defra investigation was commissioned, led by Professor Brian Spratt of Imperial College London University. The review Team commenced work on 7 August, and included in their evidence the outcome of the immediate investigation carried out by officials from the HSE.
Professor Spratt's report made a number of recommendations to improve biosecurity and biosafety at the Pirbright site, and to reconsider the future safety of laboratories that work on Foot and Mouth Disease and other important exotic animal pathogens.
- Independent Review of the safety of UK facilities handling Foot and Mouth disease virus (PDF 730 KB)
Epidemiological Investigation and Report
The epidemiological investigation is undertaken to determine when infection was introduced and all possible sources of infection. This involves investigating possible movements of susceptible animals and their products, people, vehicles, equipment, feedstuffs, bedding material, etc. In this case there has been specific involvement of experts to assist with investigating a link to the activities being undertaken at the Pirbright site.
The epidemiological report, dated 29th August, concludes that release was most likely due to escape of live virus from the drainage system that connects the vaccine production plant to the sodium hydroxide treatment tanks on another part of the Pirbright site. Movement of the virus off site was most likely from movement of fomites (substance capable of carrying infectious organisms) created from soil, water or other material contaminated by effluent, and deposited on the road from which the track to the first infected premises leads.
Interim epidemiological reports are available as follows:
The OIE (World Organisation for Animal Health) confirmed that, as of 19 February 2008, the United Kingdom is once again a foot and mouth disease-free country without vaccination. The United Kingdom’s official report on the foot and mouth outbreak was submitted to the OIE on 31 December 2007 and is available below:
- United Kingdom report to the OIE to recover country freedom from Foot and Mouth Disease without vaccination (PDF 1.2 MB)
Joint Defra/HSE Safety Alert and Inspections
The joint HSE/Defra safety alert encouraged high containment laboratories to review their operations and procedures focusing on the key lessons learnt from the Pirbright investigation. In addition to this, HSE and Defra committed to undertake a programme of inspections to ensure those issues raised by the investigation were reviewed. This was to cover all facilities within Great Britain working with hazard group 4 biological agents either at containment level(CL) 4 under the requirements of the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (as amended), the Genetically Modified Organisms (Contained Use) Regulations 2000, or by Defra for work with group 4 specified animal pathogens identified under the Specified Animal Pathogens Order 1998.
The first phase of the safety alert inspection programme focussed on CL4 facilities and was completed by mid November. A second phase involving regulatory visits to CL3 facilities, prioritised according to risk, is being developed, with visits planned for 2008. The inspection of the CL4 laboratories by regulatory inspectors revealed no breaches of the legislation and no formal enforcement action was taken. This process has provided both the regulatory bodies and the operators of the laboratories with the assurance that their facilities are well managed. The inspections have also provided a useful opportunity to provide advice and guidance on good practice.
- Safety Alert to employers conducting work on biological agents of hazard groups 3 and 4 - Inspection of High Containment Laboratories (PDF 47 KB)
Page last modified: 8 February, 2011