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totally confused

  1. 1. UK avian flu outbreak Reassurance versus panic
  2. 2. Timeline 1 <ul><li>1 February 2007 Vets are called to the Bernard Matthews farm, in Holton, Suffolk. Early tests suggests the H5 strain of avian flu is responsible for the deaths of 2,600 turkeys. </li></ul><ul><li>3 February 2007 The European Commission says tests confirm that the avian flu is the H5N1 virus. </li></ul><ul><li>4 February 2007 Government vets start gassing infected birds at the Holton farm. </li></ul>
  3. 3. Timeline 2 <ul><li>8 February 2007 The Suffolk outbreak may be linked to imports from the Bernard Matthews plant in Hungary, a government vet says. Culled birds from three more sheds on the Holton farm show strains of H5N1. But two more workers involved in dealing with the cull test negative for bird flu. </li></ul>
  4. 4. Reassurance <ul><li>At press conference the day after news broke UK government fields veterinary experts rather than ministers </li></ul><ul><li>Deputy chief veterinary officer carries out a series of media interviews </li></ul><ul><li>Media cooperate by using independent experts to stress no infected meat has entered the food chain </li></ul>
  5. 5. Doubt about source of infection <ul><li>One theory was from migratory birds </li></ul><ul><li>Yet no-one checked that birds do not migrate in February </li></ul><ul><li>Turkey company say they have secure biological precautions </li></ul><ul><li>This claim can be disputed </li></ul>
  6. 6. New suspected source <ul><li>Company failed to reveal that they were importing semi-prepared turkey meat from Hungary </li></ul><ul><li>Same strain of avian flu had broken out at a goose farm </li></ul>
  7. 7. Identical virus <ul><li>What we have is new data which indicates that the virus that is present in Suffolk is identical to the virus that was present in Hungary. My conclusion from that would be that this is a poultry-to-poultry infection rather than a wild bird to poultry infection. </li></ul><ul><li>Professor Sir David King, the government's chief scientific adviser </li></ul>
  8. 8. He would say this <ul><li>We have made all our checks and they (the imported turkeys) have come from nowhere near the restricted region. That is what our paperwork says to us. </li></ul><ul><li>Bernard Matthews' commercial director Bart Dalla Mura </li></ul>
  9. 9. Scientific credibility <ul><li>What we are in the middle of is a very complex epidemiological study, it is rather like a jigsaw puzzle. We are putting it together. </li></ul><ul><li>Dr Fred Landeg, Deputy Chief Vet </li></ul>
  10. 10. Business via reassurance <ul><li>Bernard Matthews now have some very serious questions to answer about their bio-security. Shadow environment secretary Peter Ainsworth </li></ul><ul><li>Question: Why was semi prepared meat transferred from Hungary for processing on the same site where thousands of turkeys were being reared? </li></ul>
  11. 11. Too late? <ul><li>The company involved have voluntarily agreed to temporarily suspend the movement of poultry products between their outlets in the UK and Hungary until the investigation is complete. </li></ul><ul><li>Dr Fred Landeg, Deputy Chief Vet </li></ul>
  12. 12. Latest report <ul><li>After stressing that semi-processed meat had not come from anywhere near goose farm in Hungary, Matthews admitted that they bought in meat from farm 60 miles from it </li></ul><ul><li>They quoted EU rules that this was allowed since there was only a 6-mile exclusion zone </li></ul>
  13. 13. EU rules on import bans <ul><li>We cannot ban imports of meat under EU rules since possible source of infection is beyond six miles from source of imported meat </li></ul><ul><li>Ben Bradshaw, British Minister </li></ul>
  14. 14. Compensation <ul><li>Defra has confirmed that Bernard Matthews is entitled to compensation under the Animal Health Act 1981 for all healthy birds slaughtered to control diseases, including avian flu. </li></ul><ul><li>Compensation would be based on the value of each bird just before slaughter, and the company would also be reimbursed for any eggs destroyed. </li></ul>
  15. 15. Is this right? <ul><li>Why should the taxpayer compensate a commercial company if negligence is proved? </li></ul><ul><li>“ All our birds are British,” said a spokesman for the company. “They are home grown. The fact that we have a Hungarian operation is immaterial.” </li></ul><ul><li>When has Hungary been part of the UK? </li></ul><ul><li>Bernard Mathews’ latest annusal profits are probably in the region of £30 million </li></ul>
  16. 16. Situation so far <ul><li>If virus is discovered in meat products Food Standards Agency will take “appropriate” action </li></ul><ul><li>That could mean complete withdrawal of turkey products from shops </li></ul><ul><li>“ My bigger worry is that it might have got into the wild bird population” </li></ul><ul><li>Professor Sir David King, UK Government Chief Scientist </li></ul>
  17. 17. Update <ul><li>There isn't a clear history yet. </li></ul><ul><li>We still don't know where the outbreak in Hungary came from - there could be a third source. </li></ul><ul><li>Also, new information keeps coming out. At first we were told that there was no physical connection between the factory in Suffolk and the outbreak in Hungary. </li></ul><ul><li>Now we know that a huge volume of meat was transported from Hungary to Suffolk. </li></ul><ul><li>Professor John Oxford </li></ul>
  18. 18. Same source of infection <ul><li>It appears that a single abattoir in Hungary was handling both the geese that were infected with H5N1 and the turkeys destined for Suffolk. </li></ul><ul><li>The abattoir would have been swilled out and disinfected once the geese were killed but it's very easy for the virus to have been passed on to the turkeys. </li></ul><ul><li>One feather or a single piece of skin the size of a breadcrumb from one of the infected geese can contain 100,000 viruses, which can kill 100,000 birds. </li></ul>
  19. 19. Spanish flu 1918 <ul><li>50,000,000 people killed </li></ul><ul><li>It was probably from a virus strain which originated in birds </li></ul><ul><li>Scientists have found that the virus shares genetic mutations with the bird flu found in Asia </li></ul>
  20. 20. People will die…not birds! <ul><li>It is only a matter of a few hours until death comes, and it is simply a struggle for air until they suffocate </li></ul><ul><li>Army doctor 1918 </li></ul>
  21. 21. Foot and mouth and BSE Where the UK went wrong in handling these crises
  22. 22. Foot and mouth crisis <ul><li>Thousands of burning carcases horrified a nation </li></ul><ul><li>They gave the impression that the government was not in control </li></ul><ul><li>The media ran the news agenda – not the government </li></ul>
  23. 23. Foot and mouth timescale <ul><li>19 February 2001 </li></ul><ul><li>The countryside's worst nightmare begins with a routine inspection at Cheale Meats abattoir in Little Warley, south of Brentwood, Essex, that finds &quot;highly suspicious&quot; signs of foot-and-mouth disease in 27 pigs. </li></ul>
  24. 24. Outbreak confirmed <ul><li>20 February </li></ul><ul><li>Ministry of Agriculture (now the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) confirms outbreak. </li></ul><ul><li>The abattoir and two farms that supplied the suspect pigs have five-mile (eight- kilometre ) animal exclusion zones put round them. </li></ul><ul><li>Tests at a farm next door to the abattoir, and owned by the same family, confirm the presence of foot-and-mouth there too. </li></ul>
  25. 25. All exports banned <ul><li>21 February </li></ul><ul><li>All exports of live animals, meat and dairy products are banned by the government. The European Commission bans exports of all live animals and animal products from Britain. </li></ul><ul><li>Northern Ireland follows suit with a ban on the import of animal and dairy products from the UK. </li></ul>
  26. 26. First mass slaughter <ul><li>24 February </li></ul><ul><li>The first mass slaughter, involving thousands of pigs and cattle, gets underway on eight farms across England. </li></ul>
  27. 27. Army called in to organise <ul><li>2 March </li></ul><ul><li>The first outbreaks in Northern Ireland and Scotland take the number of cases to 40. </li></ul><ul><li>The army is called in to help to organise the cull. </li></ul><ul><li>Could the Ministry of Agriculture not cope? </li></ul>
  28. 28. Political implications <ul><li>3 April </li></ul><ul><li>Prime Minister Tony Blair announces that the &quot;feelings and sensitivities&quot; of people in affected areas mean local elections - and, it is assumed, the general election - in England planned for 3 May must be delayed. </li></ul><ul><li>14 April </li></ul><ul><li>Fears over the organisation of the mass cull are raised after pictures emerge of a white-clad marksman apparently shooting at sheep and lambs in a Welsh field. </li></ul>
  29. 29. 3.7 million animals slaughtered <ul><li>19 August </li></ul><ul><li>The epidemic reaches the six-month mark with 3,750,222 animals slaughtered. </li></ul><ul><li>The tourist trade says local businesses have lost trade estimated at £250m. </li></ul>
  30. 30. End of outbreak <ul><li>14 January 2002 </li></ul><ul><li>With no outbreak for three months and negative tests on sheep flocks in Northumberland, the county were foot-and-mouth was initially traced, Britain declares itself free of foot-and-mouth from midnight. </li></ul><ul><li>International clearance and a resumption of trading status will take longer, possibly months. </li></ul>
  31. 31. How did government handle the foot and mouth crisis? <ul><li>Firstly through Ministry of Agriculture Press Office </li></ul><ul><li>But when crisis became more severe they could not cope </li></ul><ul><li>Special crisis centre set up in Cabinet office to bring in more expertise </li></ul><ul><li>Ministry of Agriculture Press office reinforced with more experienced staff from front-line Departments </li></ul>
  32. 32. Some personal reflections <ul><li>The main fault was lack of internal communication within the Ministry of Agriculture </li></ul><ul><li>The press office found itself on the defensive because of this instead of spending more time reassuring the population </li></ul><ul><li>A purely reactive media handling plan is strategically unsound </li></ul>
  33. 33. Some more personal reflections <ul><li>A crisis such as this or a future pandemic needs a wartime media handling and communications strategy </li></ul><ul><li>The Ministry of Agriculture was only geared up to a peacetime operation </li></ul><ul><li>Too many people had been in their jobs too long and had become too comfortable in what was not a front-line department </li></ul>
  34. 34. Ministry failed in crisis <ul><li>The man who led the foot-and-mouth disease culling operation for the Army later told an inquiry how he faced a lack of resources and no policy direction when he took on the operation. </li></ul><ul><li>Brigadier Alex Birtwhistle (pictured right) told the first day of the Cumbria Foot-and-mouth disease Inquiry that he was asked to support the Ministry of Agriculture in the crisis. </li></ul>
  35. 35. How was BSE handled in UK? <ul><li>The UK government’s handling of foot-and-mouth gave many valuable lessons to be learned for the future </li></ul><ul><li>Effective crisis communication, strategic planning, proper internal communication </li></ul><ul><li>It should help in future planning where human health is the main concern, for example BSE or avian flue – a pandemic </li></ul>
  36. 36. BSE…the greater danger <ul><li>Prion diseases, also known as transmissible spongiform encephalopathies, are a group of infectious neurodegenerative disorders. </li></ul><ul><li>They include Creuzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD) and vCJD in humans, bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in cows, and chronic wasting disease in deer and elk. </li></ul>
  37. 37. Human deaths <ul><li>There have been 139 deaths since vCJD emerged in the UK nine years ago. Scientists have estimated that the worst of the infections could be over after the disease appeared to hit a high point in 2000 with 28 deaths, before falling. </li></ul>
  38. 38. BSE timeline in UK <ul><li>April 1988 - Government establishes the Southwood committee to look into BSE. It concludes that BSE had probably been spread in animal feed. </li></ul><ul><li>July 1988 - Ban on feed derived from protein introduced. </li></ul><ul><li>August 1988 - Decision to slaughter all BSE-affected cattle. </li></ul>
  39. 39. EC ban and restrictions <ul><li>July 1989 - EC bans export of cattle born before July 1988. November 1989 - Ban on use of cows brain and spinal cord for human consumption. </li></ul><ul><li>March 1990 - EC restricts exports of cattle to those under six months. </li></ul>
  40. 40. Not a good idea! <ul><li>May 1990 - Agriculture Minister John Gummer and his daughter eat beef burgers in front of British press. </li></ul><ul><li>September 1990 Ban on using cow brains and spinal cords in Animal feed. </li></ul><ul><li>July 1993 - 100,000th case of BSE in Britain. </li></ul>
  41. 41. Link between BSE and CJD <ul><li>December 1995 - Ban on using mechanically recovered meat for human consumption. </li></ul><ul><li>21 March 1996 - Government announces suspected link between BSE and human equivalent, CJD. </li></ul><ul><li>27 March 1996 - EC announces worldwide export ban on all British beef </li></ul>
  42. 42. Partners fall out <ul><li>21 May 1996 - UK begins policy of non co-operation with EU partners until ban is lifted. </li></ul><ul><li>24 May 1996 - The UK applies to the European Court of Justice to have the ban overturned. </li></ul><ul><li>12 June 1996 - UK proposes phased lifting of ban, including exemption of cattle from herds certified as never having had BSE. </li></ul>
  43. 43. People cut beef consumption <ul><li>18 July 1996 - The European Parliament sets up a Temporary Committee of Inquiry to investigate alleged maladministration in relation to BSE in the EC. It produces a report the following February which was critical of the UK and the Commission in its handling of the BSE crisis. </li></ul>
  44. 44. Selective cull of stock <ul><li>December 1996 - Britain announces that the backlog of animals waiting to be slaughtered under the Over Thirty Month Scheme is cleared. Proposals for a certified heads scheme are announced. The selective cull of cattle most at risk of BSE is announced which means that the UK acted on all five pre-conditions of the Florence Agreement </li></ul>
  45. 45. Confidence gap <ul><li>December 1997 - Government announces one-off compensation of £85m to beef farmers. </li></ul><ul><li>January 1998 - A £2m marketing campaign is launched to attempt to restore confidence in British beef. </li></ul><ul><li>February 1998 - Government bans sale of beef on the bone. </li></ul><ul><li>Mar 1 – Beef on bone served to British government Minister and Prince of Wales at Welsh beef promotion (pictured right) </li></ul>
  46. 46. Public inquiry opens <ul><li>9 March 1998 - Public inquiry into the origin and spread of BSE and its human equivalent, CJD, opens in London. </li></ul><ul><li>16 March 1998 - EU vets approve the removal of the ban on British beef exports from certified heads in Northern Ireland. The decision is later ratified by the EC. </li></ul>
  47. 47. Key Findings 1 <ul><li>At times officials showed a lack of rigour in considering how policy should be turned into practice, to the detriment of the efficacy of the measures taken. </li></ul><ul><li>At times bureaucratic processes resulted in unacceptable delay in giving effect to policy. </li></ul><ul><li>The Government introduced measures to guard against the risk that BSE might be a matter of life and death not merely for cattle but also for humans, but the possibility of a risk to humans was not communicated to the public or to those whose job it was to implement and enforce the precautionary measures. </li></ul>
  48. 48. Key Findings 2 <ul><li>By the end of 1987 Ministry of Agriculture officials had become concerned as to whether it was acceptable for cattle showing signs of BSE to be slaughtered for human consumption. </li></ul><ul><li>However, the Department of Health (DH) was not asked to collaborate with MAFF in considering the implications that BSE had for human health. It should have been. </li></ul><ul><li>Lack of effective internal communication within government </li></ul>
  49. 49. Key Findings 3 <ul><li>The public was repeatedly reassured that it was safe to eat beef. Some statements failed to explain that the views expressed were subject to proper observance of the precautionary measures which had been introduced to protect human health against the possibility that BSE might be transmissible. These statements conveyed the message not merely that beef was safe but that BSE was not transmissible . </li></ul>
  50. 50. Public given wrong information <ul><li>The impression thus given to the public that BSE was not transmissible to humans was a significant factor leading to the public feeling of betrayal when it was announced on 20 March 1996 that BSE was likely to have been transmitted to people. </li></ul>
  51. 51. Crucial measure <ul><li>Compulsory slaughter and destruction of all animals showing signs of BSE was a crucial measure to protect human health and, incidentally, animal health. It prevented the use, for any purposes, of sick animals, which could otherwise have been sent to the slaughterhouse for human consumption. </li></ul>
  52. 52. Another communication failure <ul><li>Ministry of Agriculture and Department of Health failed to alert Department of Trade and Industry to the need to consider the risk through cosmetics from BSE despite this having been identified by the Tyrrell Report in June 1989 </li></ul><ul><li>This contributed to several months' delay in the start of action to secure their safety. </li></ul>
  53. 53. People lose out <ul><li>The unusual problems of the diagnosis, treatment and care of the early cases of vCJD meant that for some of the victims and their families the tragic horror of the disease was made the more difficult to bear by lack of the appropriate treatment, assistance and support . </li></ul><ul><li>Victims of vCJD and their families have special needs which should be addressed </li></ul>
  54. 54. Internal squabbles <ul><li>After some initial delay, BSE research was adequately funded by the Government. </li></ul><ul><li>Attempts to agree that a director, or 'supremo', should oversee and coordinate research were initiated but foundered in the face of concerns on the part of the Research Councils and the Ministry of Agriculture for their independence. </li></ul><ul><li>Nothing was done because of egos…Ministry of Agriculture was then replaced by a new Department of Food and Rural Affairs </li></ul>
  55. 55. BSE blunder <ul><li>Rural affairs minister Margaret Beckett has defended the government's handling of a blunder in which scientists testing for BSE in sheep examined cows' brains by mistake. </li></ul><ul><li>Officials are now trying to find out how sheep and brain tissue samples became mixed up in the laboratory (Note: the sheep is top right. Cow is the one with the hat) </li></ul><ul><li>. </li></ul>
  56. 56. Lessons to be learned <ul><li>Effective and efficient internal government communications are needed in order to be able to communicate effectively and efficiently externally </li></ul><ul><li>People are suffering … be it from catching a disease from through a pandemic outbreak. Government communications policy should show empathy with this </li></ul><ul><li>Do not lie </li></ul>
  57. 57. Lessons to be learned 2 <ul><li>Your communications plan should be strategic not simply reactive </li></ul><ul><li>Your spokespersons should be well trained and familiar with how the media work </li></ul><ul><li>In the pandemic scenario key spokespersons should be “white coats” – doctors veterinarians, scientists. </li></ul>
  58. 58. Conclusions <ul><li>We will look at the UK handling of BSE and foot and mouth disease and learn from the mistakes during this workshop. </li></ul><ul><li>I cannot stress enough the importance of effective internal communication between government departments </li></ul><ul><li>You see from this presentation where the UK got it wrong…Albania has a chance to get it right. </li></ul>
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