Foot and Mouth Disease at the Pirbright Site

Following the outbreak of foot and mouth disease (FMD) in Surrey on 3 August, the UK government asked the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to lead an investigation into biosecurity issues at the Pirbright facility a site occupied by the Institute of Animal Health (IAH) and also by two private companies called Merial Animal Health Ltd (Merial) and Stabilitech Ltd (Stabilitech). The Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) had established that the virus strain causing FMD in the first infected herd of cattle at a farm in Normandy, Surrey was O1 BFS67 (also known as 01 BFS1860 and hereafter referred to as O1 BFS). This is a laboratory strain not naturally found in the environment and was one upon which work was being carried out by all three occupants of the Pirbright site ahead of the first outbreak. HSE'​s job was to lead a team to investigate:

  • potential breaches of biosecurity at the Pirbright site;

  • whether such breaches may have led to a release of any specified animal pathogen;

  • whether any such breaches had been rectified to prevent future incidents.