§ Brian Cotter
To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment he has made of the potential impact on vCJD in the human population as a result of exposure to the BSE agent following the burial of infected carcases during the foot and mouth epidemic. 
§ Yvette Cooper
The Environment Agency issued guidelines on 26 March advising that no cattle over five years of age, which are at greater risk of BSE, should be buried. But before these guidelines took effect, it is estimated that up to 10,000 cattle aged over five years may have been buried. The Spongiform Encephalopathy Advisory Committee (SEAC), the Government's advisory body on BSE and CJD, has considered disposal issues arising from foot and mouth on a number of occasions, including at a special meeting on 24 May 2001. A news release summarising the outcome of that meeting statesThe sites where over five year cattle may have been buried would need to be examined on a case by case basis, and appropriate risk assessments carried out. It was likely that most body fluids would already have leaked out of the carcases which would no longer be intact. Digging up the remains would itself create significant risks—for example of bringing deep soil to the surface—that would need to be taken into account in any assessment. Overall, the number of BSE infected carcases across all sites—let alone any particular site—would be small. The risk from any individual site would, normally, be small and should be kept in perspective.A report on the possible risks to public health from current foot and mouth disposal options was published last month and is available on the Department's website at www.doh.gov.uk/fmdguidance/disposalriskassessment.pdf.