eric

Repeat: Foot and Mouth Disease

sheep.jpg

Back in 2001, the UK had an outbreak of Foot and Mouth disease. This disease is highly contagious and can be fatal (however, rarely) to hoofed animals like pigs, cows, sheep, etc. Around 2,000 cases of the disease had been reported in the UK countryside and by the end of the “containment” around 7,000,000 sheep and cattle were killed in a psuedo-successful attempt to halt the disease.

Well, it appears the attempt to halt the disease wasn’t so successful. The disease has resurfaced and since last Friday about 200 cattle have been culled on two farms and the UK government has banned the movement of all livestock across Britain.

From Wikipedia:

Outbreaks of foot-and-mouth disease have resulted in the slaughter of millions of animals, despite this being a frequently non-fatal disease. The destruction of animals is primarily to prevent the disease from spreading throughout herds intended for human consumption or producing milk. Due to international efforts to eradicate the disease, infection would also lead to trade bans being imposed on affected countries. Critics of current policies to cull infected herds argue that the financial imperative needs to be balanced against the killing of many animals, especially when a significant proportion of infected animals, most notably those producing milk, would recover from infection and live normal lives.

Gordon Nixon saw enormous suffering caused by foot-and-mouth when he was a slaughterman in the north-east of England during the 2001 epidemic. Read about his story hear. Farmers are extremely worried about this epidemic repeating itself.

More information:

What is Foot and Mouth Disease (bbc news)
A Farmer’s Story (bbc news)
Current Outbreak Linked to Lab (bbc news)
2007 UK Outbreak (wikipedia)

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