VEGA News Item

Water, Food, Leisure. Bacteria, Viruses, Attack - 16/08/2007
E. Coli O157 has claimed another death and two other people are seriously ill after an outbreak of food poisoning linked to delicatessen counters at two branches of Morrisons supermarket in Paisley.
1. E. Coli O157 has claimed another death and two other people are seriously ill after an outbreak of food poisoning linked to delicatessen counters at two branches of Morrisons supermarket in Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland. The disabled 66-year-old woman's husband, aged 72, is one of those in hospital. Four other patients, including an 86-year-old woman, are recovering at home as a result of the infection. NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde attributed the source of the infection to cold meat counters at Morrisons stores in Falside Road and Lonend. The woman died on Monday morning at the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Paisley. Her husband is being treated in Glasgow's Victoria Infirmary. Shares in the supermarket chain plunged after Morrisons, which has 368 stores across Britain and made profits of £330m last year, said that it had withdrawn sliced cold meat from delicatessen counters in two stores.

2. News has also been received of contamination with E.Coli of the water supply to a housing estate in North Dublin in the Irish Republic. Discovery of the bacteria in the system has led to warnings to residents to boil mains water before use.

3. The threat of foot-and-mouth disease has not yet been overcome: two potential cases were reported on Tuesday. A suspected outbreak has been reported at the Chessington World of Adventures that incorporates the Chessington Zoo, which is now at the centre of a 3km temporary exclusion zone. A farm in the St Mary in the Marsh area of Romney Marsh, Kent, has been isolated likewise.

4. The Surrey exclusion zone flanks Chessington town, Hook, Oxshott, Esher and Epsom, and covers the whole of Claygate. A vet from DEFRA had inspected a sheep from the attraction's petting zoo and had closed the area where cloven-hooved animals were kept. The theme park and most of the zoo remain open to the public. This may be a false alarm, like last week's in Dorking, Surrey. Animal welfarists are viewing the situation with blue tongue virus, a disease that also affects herbivorous animals seriously and may entail culling on a big scale. This virus is advancing northwards from North Africa and has now reached the Low Countries. During the recent severe weather the winds over southeast England and the Channel have come from the south, backing southeast. Blue Tongue is midge-borne. It doesn't affect humans. Movements of humans and other animals from continental visits sound warnings of carriage of infection on brought-in foodstuffs, as might happen with the return of holiday-makers.

Late News

5. Checks carried out on farm animals at the two sites in Kent and Surrey have now proved negative. Local vets had raised the alarm last Tuesday. Further tests will still be needed before the premises can be given the all-clear. Both are outside the 10km surveillance zone set up around the two outbreaks of the disease, which were confirmed in Surrey earlier this month. If final tests confirm the result from the latest set, restrictions on movements of livestock imposed after FMD was first identified will be eased and teams of emergency vaccinators will be stood down. The risk of the disease spreading outside the original protection and surveillance zones around the infected farms and Pirbright Laboratory in Surrey was now "very low": as a result, DEFRA is lifting restrictions on animal movements to allow livestock to be moved around a farm, within a 3km radius, for "welfare reasons". For instance, cows can be taken from the milking parlor to a field. At present, many dairy cows would be at pasture, being brought in twice a day for milking: the condition and length of the walkways are therefore very important, to reduce the discomfort and pain on overstocked animals liable to foot troubles, abnormal gout, and lameness. Cows may leak from distended udders or even from organs during the dry period when summer mastitis is rife, but they cannot relieve themselves of this misery with the ease they display in emptying a bursting bladder.

6. More and more cows are now being kept in large numbers of high-yielding animals in zero-grazing systems, allowing little movement and intensive feeding of high inputs. DEFRA is under pressure to ease restrictions of movements for the further restraints that affect trans-shipments and exportation.  

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