How my Sunday was ruined by a silly joke about a ‘Brexit virus’

This month I will mostly be being annoyed with a gastroenterologist by the name of Dr Harry Dalton, who made a silly joke about Hepatitis E being a ‘Brexit virus’ at a conference and subsequently ruined my Sunday.

I’m still not sure how the media picked up on it, but run with it they did, despite the fact there was no new news, and once again stuck the boot into pork. Although the focus was on imported pork, there was still mention of the fact that 92.8% of British pigs ‘had the virus’ – which was not true (92.8% pigs in the survey had had it at some point) and no further qualification about the fact that the predominant type found in those pigs was different to that found in humans.

Thus there followed an afternoon and most of the next day trying to sort out the ensuing mess and praying that the export market to China wouldn’t be affected again, as happened after a similar story went out in 2014. By Monday afternoon, most of the papers had run it and it had gone quiet – that was until BBC Breakfast got in touch. Thankfully, after pointing out what their misinformed article had led to last time, and that this was not a new story, they went away and didn’t come back.

“There followed an afternoon and most of the next day trying to sort out the ensuing mess and praying that the export market to China wouldn’t be affected”

This is also the month that we submit our proposal for the pig sector antibiotic reduction target. I just wanted to take the opportunity to thank all those who shared their opinion with us as I felt strongly that we needed a clear mandate from our membership as to what the target should be. I was also really impressed by the enthusiasm and courage by people to want to set a challenging target, although as a very wise vet recently said to me: ‘we have to be sure that we don’t over-promise and under-deliver’!

The General Election is also almost upon us and hopefully by now you will all be busily waving the NPA manifesto in the faces of your local parliamentary candidates and getting them to pose with the poster for a selfie!
It might not appeal to you, but they love that kind of thing, which is why we did it. However you choose to use it though, I do hope that you find it useful. We also emailed it to many of the candidates and have had quite a few useful responses. Some were clearly barking, but I guess that is to be expected – a General Election brings out all sorts!

Talking of barking, I would also like to introduce my newest staff member who starts at the end of this month. His name is Ed Barker and he hails from Bacton, Suffolk. He comes from a family farm and has previously worked for the Country Land and Business Association (CLA), but we stole him from Cheffins. He’s a lovely chap so do be nice to him when he starts to do his rounds.

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About The Author

Dr Zoë Davies is chief executive of the NPA. For more information visit: