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During March and April 2001, many sheep were slaughtered in Wigtownshire in the belief that they had "Foot and Mouth". Some farmers voiced the suspicion that it was not "Foot and Mouth" but simply a type of Orf. Then we read the following!

Monday, 18 June 2001, p. 8,
by David Brown, Agriculture Editor.

MYSTERY blisters found in the mouths of sheep and cattle during efforts to contain foot and mouth disease were unconnected with the epidemic, veterinary scientists say.

The blisters, which have complicated efforts to diagnose the disease on farms, are different from those normally associated with the disease. They have never been recorded before.

They first came to the notice of vets working in the south of Scotland on farms in Dumfries and Galloway.

Government and private vets conducted tests which showed that they played no role in the epidemic.

Colour photographs have been published in the Veterinary Record, journal of the British Veterinary Association, to bring them to the attention of teams still fighting the epidemic.

John Sproat, a vet at Castle Douglas, Dumfriesshire, who discovered the phenomenon, said yesterday: "People should not panic when they see these blisters.

"To the trained eye they are different from foot and mouth blisters. We still do not know what is causing them. But it could be that animals are damaging their mouths on grit from poor quality grazing where the grass has not grown well due to poor weather conditions.

"Another theory is that sheep may have damaged their mouths by eating salt blocks."

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