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Statement from Institute for Animal Health

9 August 2007

The Institute for Animal Health would like to make the following statement to help clarify understanding of the drainage systems on the Pirbright site as they related to the on-going investigations into the possible source of the current FMD outbreak in Surrey.

The most significant point is that there should never be live virus from research or vaccine production work in any of the drainage systems on the site.

All virus has first to be treated and 'killed' before it leaves all laboratories on the site in which the work is carried out under a licence to operate from Defra at SAPO 4 level. There is no indication that this process has failed at the institute and the HSE interim report to Defra concluded that Institute for Animal Health could continue its work.

However, were such a failure to occur, there is on the site an effluent treatment facility outside the building where chemical-treatment would kill laboratory levels of any virus present as a result of a failure in the institutes system. You will recall, however, that we have previously reported that the Institute for Animal Health works on only small volumes of virus, 10 milliltres were used during the period under investigation, whereas vaccine production by Merial is one million times greater, as reported by the HSE's interim report. All of our checks have shown this effluent treatment facility to have been working appropriately at all times.

Indeed, all our investigations since this outbreak was first reported have shown all the Institute's biosecurity procedures to be operating in accordance with the licence granted by Defra. We would be surprised to learn of the presence of any virus in the soil around our drains.

We are continuing to assist the HSE and the Spratt enquiries as they investigate the possible source and routes of any virus escape from the site. We also continue our vital work in testing samples from potentially infected animals in support of Defra's work to minimise the impact of this outbreak on Britain's farmers.

We are not expecting any further developments this evening and no further statements will be made. Thank you and good evening.

Professor Martin Shirley
Institute for Animal Health


Notes to editors

SAPO - Specified Animal Pathogens Order 1998

The Institute for Animal Health (IAH) is the largest research institute in the United Kingdom dedicated to the study of infectious diseases in farm animals. It has two sites: Compton Laboratory (Compton, near Newbury, Berkshire), and Pirbright Laboratory (Pirbright, near Guildford, Surrey).

IAH is one of seven research institutes sponsored by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC).


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