Awaiting the snipers
BOM is now coming to you from the Foot and Mouth Surveillance Zone. According to the Defra map above, we're coloured yellow and are therefore under surveillance. It will be interesting to see precisely what that amounts to.
As we all know, the 2001 outbreak was a total disaster, causing mayhem in the affected areas and costing us £8bn (see here for definitive account). And given this government's record, we should prepare for the worst. Especially since Brown and Benn have rushed back from their hols to take command of media ops.
Now far be it from BOM to start new Killer Plague scares, but the Major has already been round to point out the extreme proximity of the affected farm (unconfirmed by Defra, but identified locally as East Wyke Farm, Wyke Lane, Ash, GU12 6EE) and the Institute for Animal Health labs at Pirbright (Ash Road, Pirbright, GU24 ONF).
Because Pirbright is the only lab in the UK licensed to keep the foot and mouth virus and other exotic animal pathogens, and was the hub of scientific activity during the 2001 foot and mouth epidemic (eg see here).
There's always been a certain undercurrent of anxiety about its sinister presence locally, since, as its ex-head acknowledges, "there is a potential risk that personnel moving on and off site may not adhere to disease security regulations". (And that's even without considering a deliberate theft of Plague Virus, thought by some to have been the real cause of the 2001 outbreak).
Ominously, just like last time, there seems to have been a delay in picking up the outbreak. But once found, at least this time the government has put an immediate stop on movements of live animals.
We await the deployment of SAS snipers to enforce this edict locally (which is what the Irish authorities did during their highly successful containment response in 2001).