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Real Biosecurity for the Heartland

Mainland versus Island Sites

Posted by nonbafks on August 12, 2008

The 1978 release at Plum Island can be compared to the release at Pirbright in the summer of 2007. Pirbright is located on the mainland of Great Britain in Surrey, a semi-agricultural area just southwest of London. The U.K. Institute for Animal Health and Merial, a commercial vaccine production plant, are co-located there, and both work with FMD virus. The site is surrounded by a number of “hobby farms,” on some of which 40 to 50 cattle are bred and raised. In summer 2007, cattle on farms near the Pirbright facility became infected with FMD. Subsequent investigations concluded that the likely source of the release was a leaking drainage pipe at the facility that carried waste from the contained areas to an effluent treatment plant. The virus was then spread onto local farms by the splashing of contaminated mud onto vehicles that had unrestricted access to the contaminated area and could easily drive onto and off the site. The investigations determined that there had been a failure to properly maintain the site’s infrastructure. In all, eight separate outbreaks occurred over a 2-month period.

A key difference, of course, between the Pirbright incident in 2007 and the incident at Plum Island in 1978 is that the virus did not spread off the Plum Island. Similarly, escapes in 1968 in Denmark from the Lindholm facility and in the 1970s in Germany from the Riems facility, when compared to Pirbright in 2007, also demonstrate the benefit of an island location in containing a release.

Keyword: Island, mainland

Page 24, GAO-08-821T


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