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Thread: Can we really spread trotter and snout?

  1. #1
    Mini Goon Chris McSweeny's Avatar
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    Does anybody really know how much risk there is of walkers (and mountain bikers) spreading FMD? There's an awful lot of rubbish trotted ( :-) ) out about it being carried in the mud on our boots, or in our nasal passages, but how true is this really? Do we actually pose any greater threat than there is from the wind? I've not seen any proper studies on this - is this because nobody's ever done one? It strikes me nobody really knows much about the transmission of this disease apart from animal to animal contact (due to trucking animals round the country, which is _still_ happening).

    Surely with the amount of money the tourist industry's losing they could fund some sort of study into transmission of the disease by humans, and prove once and for all that we don't really pose any risk (as I feel is surely the case).

    I have to admit I have seen one study produced by somebody in work yesterday, which suggested that there's a 25% chance of humans spreading the disease by... wait for it... breathing in heavily directly from the mouths of infected pigs, then going to a healthy animal and coughing / sneezing for 5 minutes!

  2. #2
    Ultra King Dave O aka Jungle Dave ;)'s Avatar
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    IS IT ME OR THIS THING JUST TURNING INTO AS HUGE FARCE?

  3. #3
    Mini Goon
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    >25% chance of humans spreading the disease
    >by... wait for it... breathing in heavily
    >directly from the mouths of infected
    >pigs, then going to a healthy animal and
    >coughing / sneezing for 5 minutes!

    Damn! does that mean I can't...oh...err...oops, wrong forum. Moving swiftly on...

    I think you're probably right that the risk of walkers spreading the disease is, in general, very low. But there are a couple of conter-points worth bearing in mind:

    1) The numbers game. While a single walker might not present a big risk, the combined risks of the massed hoardes that pass through, say, seathwaite on their way up scafell on any given sunday possibly would be significant.

    2) Politics: Like it or not, Right to Roam, although it is now law, is not yet implemented. The more that walkers can show themselves to be responsible countyside users, the greater will be the bargaining power of organisations like the RA when the outbreak is finally over. Hence the RA's current (some would say spineless) attitude.

    3) Re. the mud on boots thing, the virus apparently lives quite happily in sh*t, of the type usually found knee-deep over paths in farmyards. So it's easy to imagine again a notional 1000 ramblers all charging through infected farm (A), picking up 20g of poo on their boots, then continuing though un-infected farm (B) and depositing 10 of those 20 grammes. Result, (B) now has 10KG of infected crap all over its yard, which suddenly starts to seem significant.

    OK, so in reality it would take a lot more than that to actually inflict any damage, but you get the general idea. If everyone else would stay at home, then you or I individually wouldn't pose a big risk. But collectively, we do.

    I suspect that the studies that demonstrate the risks from people have already been done. The problem is that MAFF and the NFU aren't interested in arguments like " a hundred walkers are less risky than 1 truck full of sheep" - they want *no* risks, except ones that they feel are essential (i.e. the truck load of sheep). And, since they have the reins at the moment, (see argument(2)), that's how it stays.

    IMO we won't see significant lifting of the access restrictions in many parts of England until the emergency legislation allowing closure of ROWs is revoked i.e. after the last case is gone. Which means I'll be driving to Scotland a lot more.



  4. #4
    Ultra King Dave O aka Jungle Dave ;)'s Avatar
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    its all right for you I can't drive and there's no way I can afford the bloody train fair all the there and back as for Wales the Brecons are closed, the Black Mountians are closed in fact just about eveywhere is closed so give my regards to scotland you luck "Person"

  5. #5
    Mini Goon
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    You can have a lift, if you live in the midlands !

    Unfortunately not this month, as I'm going up next week and won't be coming back for a fortnight, but I'll no doubt be going up some time in May. Extra bodies to split the petrol costs are always welcome.


  6. #6
    Widdler
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    FACT - Cloven footed animals do not die from this disease.
    Fact - It is transmitted in the air, up to a distance of 5 miles.
    FACT - Before long, the whole of the UK will be affected, with or without our help.
    FACT - The government do not know what to do.
    PROBABLE OUTCOME - Very wealthy farmers due to compensation. Loads of ruined country businesses. Thousands of angry outdoor types like me who have had their year ruined for no reason!!!!!!!!!

  7. #7
    Mini Goon
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    Paul:
    While I agree with the sentiment, anyone shouting FACT in capital letters really ought to be more careful.

    1) Mortality is 2-20% in very young and old animals. i.e. they do die. Not all, but some.

    2) Correct

    3) Not necessarily. Some models predict this, others do not. Choice of model is an opinion and not a fact

    4) appears to be true.

    5) (a) Probably not, compensation is lower than the animal's value in most cases. No doubt some will do well but others won't
    (b) true
    (c) certainly ruined, whether or not it's for "no reason" is moot and probably un-proveable.

  8. #8
    Widdler
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    Thanks for the corrections Chris, but the vets seem to be at odds within their own profession. The last one I saw speaking on TV said the disease was like a cold and the animals were over it within a month. The farmers were being compensated at twice the market value and some farmers were openly trying to encourage infection!!!!

    My tirade appears more out of frustration with the government than anything else.

    I work on a National Trust site which is presently closed. However some sheep appeared in one the fields today, from where, I don't know, but appears to be one law for some etc.....

  9. #9
    Goon Ms. Mjausson's Avatar
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    What I wonder is what planet Jon is on. He's already posted the Thursday AM update for Foot and Mouth and in it he says that Tony Blair reads outdoorsmagic.com.
    --Mjausson

  10. #10
    ‹bermensch Hedgehope Aztec's Avatar
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    He does?? Well p*ss off Tony. In fact that goes for all politicians.
    Bunch of greedy, hypocritical, smug and sanctimonious gits, bit like the rest of the human race really!

  11. #11
    Widdler
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    If Jon says Tony Blair reads OUTDOORSmagic, then you can believe it. He tracked me down easily enough, and I'm dead. Actually, T Blair is presently contributing to another thread on the forum, under the name Arthur Paddington.

  12. #12
    Widdler
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    Too right - Vote New Labour (Please not that old one we are trying to bury!) and not those damn tories either - I mena I'm much prettier to look at than that William Hague chappie. ;-)

  13. #13
    Mini Goon Chris McSweeny's Avatar
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    Yes Chris - I can see where you're going with your numbers argument, but pulling a few imaginary numbers out of the air (as I said there don't seem to be any proper figures on this):
    Risk of a single walker trasmitting the disease, 1 in a billion (seems realistic to me from everything else I've seen).
    Number of walkers on hills, 10 million (20% of UK population).
    Total risk from all walkers, 1 in 100 chance of one extra case (out of 1000 currently).

    You may think MAFF have got some studies on this, but given how competent they're being about everything else, I doubt it somehow.

    The virus living in mud? All sounds very plausible, but we've been told it's a fragile virus which doesn't live for long outside a host, so how likely is it really that there's vast pools of this virus lurking in the mud?

    Does anybody have any facts at all on this? As I said, I'm pulling figures out of the air - though I suspect I may be able to do a better job of this than MAFF and the government, given that it took them nearly a month to realise it would be a good idea to slaughter animals the same day the infection was noticed.

  14. #14
    Mini Goon
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    re: The virus living in mud: according to OIE, it can survive for up to a month. IT's not really that fragile, although it is highly sensitive to acidic environments. More info at
    http://www.oie.int/eng/maladies/fiches/A_A010.HTM

    Back to the volume of numbers thing...

    The problem with the numbers game is that "averages" don't really make any sense.

    For example, a well-disinfected walker going from, say, aberdeen to the cairngorms to walk has a much lower than 1 in a billion chance of spreading the disease (since they would need to pick it up from some secondary source first, and are unlikely to meet any farm animals along the way ). OTOH a walker who lives on a farm in Cumbria, going for a walk through the Dales, without cleaning boots properly, poses a much higher risk (likely to be in contact with the virus before, likely to come into contact with uninfected farm animals en route).

    There are so many different combinations of how likely an indivudual is to come into contact with the virus, how likely they are to transport the virus to an un-infected area, and how likely they are to then bring the virus into contact with livestock, that it's not possible to come up with a sensible "average" figure - you can pick any number between 1 in 10 and 1 in 10 quadrillion, and put together a convincing set of arguments for it.

    So maybe that's why you're not seeing the facts you expect to. Although it's possible to calculate the risk of a specified trip, given details of the trip location, the indivduals making the trip, etc, it's not possible to extrapolate this up to come up with an average figure.

    I would also suggest than it would be risky to do such a thing. Just suppose that someone somehow comes up with a big formula that says "the average risk posed by a walker is 1 in a million/billion/whatever". Imediately, people who pose a higher risk than that (like my notional farm-dwelling dales-walker above) can say "oh, well the average risk is very low, so I'm OK to go out".

    Far better not to publish numbers (esp. since they are likely to be very big, and very difficult to understand - how many people can really grasp the difference between 1 in a million and 1 in a billion ? (ans: not very many, if the national lottery is anything to go by)), but to publish information on what things increase your risks and what decrease them, and let people (land-owners and land-users) use this info to determine what is appropriate to access and what not. This is a blunt instrument approach, and therefore must necessarily err on the side of caution.

    Where I think it does need improvement is in "encouraging" landowners who actually have a low risk assessment to open up. I think that much more pressure needs to be put on local authorities to get access opened up in FMD-Free areas, but exactly how one could realistically implement that, given the resources available, is not entirely clear to me. So until I come up with a better plan I'm going to grin and bear it.

    Anyway, I don't care 'cos I'm off to Glen Shiel for a week and they've just opened it and Glen Affic up. Then I'm off to Portugal for a week of sun and surf. Hurrah for Easter ! :-)




  15. #15
    Widdler
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    Glen Affric? Sounds like a good place to haunt :-O

  16. #16
    ‹bermensch Lloyd Bower's Avatar
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    Thats good news about Glen Affic, I'm off there for the May Bank Hol.

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