A scientist forecasting the extent of the foot-and-mouth outbreak has predicted the number of cases will not peak until early May. The epidemiologist called in by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Maff) to advise on the course of the crisis has said that this is likely to be the worst epidemic of the disease the country had seen. Speaking as 40 new cases on Wednesday brought the total to 435, he said it had been “an epidemic waiting to happen […] although the 1967 outbreak was very serious and resulted perhaps in 2,000 cases this one is likely to be worse”. So far there have been 435 confirmed cases – 40 on Wednesday alone. His projections suggested the epidemic would not peak for many weeks and it would be five months before foot-and-mouth was eliminated – and only then if the government brought forward its preventative cull of livestock.A government campaign to limit the damage done to the rural industry and tourism by the foot-and-mouth crisis begins today. Adverts in newspapers and a special telephone hotline will advise people about which parts of the countryside they can visit safely. The National Trust has also announced that it will be re-opening about 160 of its properties.The BMC have an online database detailing which crags are ´open´ all over the country here.