Hear about the hoof and mouth disease in UK?

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I just heard on NPR about the BIG problem they are having in the UK with hoof and mouth disease. It is devastating farmers' stocks and it is so bad that they are preventing people from the city from going out to the country. They have closed off footpaths in the country and are fining people 5,000 pounds (about $8,000 US dollars) for walking on the paths. Apparently the disease is so highly contagious that peoples shoes are carrying it from farm to farm on these country paths and infecting the livestock. They are getting ready to start disinfecting car tires when they come through the tunnel. France and Portugal are insisting on it so they won't contaminate their livestock. Something like this could have devastating impact if you ask me. Certainly made me stop and think. I guess one good thing for the US is that strangers don't tend to wander around farm property univited like they do in the UK. Hope they are able to control the problem.

-- Colleen (pyramidgreatdanes@erols.com), March 01, 2001


Foot-and-Mouth Disease Spreading in UK Ireland Mulls Canceling St. Patrick's Events

By LAURA KING .c The Associated Press LONDON (March 1) - It's an animal ailment, but these days, hardly a person living in the British Isles is unaffected by the nationwide outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease.

In the latest round of cancellations and curtailments meant to stem the spread of the highly contagious livestock virus, organizers on Thursday called off Britain's biggest dog show, beloved by canine fanciers all over the country.

With word that the disease has jumped the Irish Sea, authorities were even thinking about the unthinkable - cancellation of St. Patrick's Day festivities in Dublin.

Such is the sense of crisis that Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey, spiritual leader of the Church of England, is asking for prayers at services this Sunday for the nation's farmers, who are being battered economically by the outbreak. Special prayers are being written for the occasion.

Since foot-and-mouth disease was discovered at a slaughterhouse in southern England on Feb. 19 - Britain's first outbreak in two decades - the list of banned activities has lengthened daily. No fishing in angling streams, no strolls on country paths, no fox- hunting, no unnecessary farm visits, no horse racing.

Government statisticians said Thursday they were making contingency plans in case they have to delay next month's national census. There is even speculation - so far denied by the government - that national elections expected in May will be moved back.

Britain's public forests and bird reserves were closed to the public Thursday, as were all countryside sites run by the National Trust, the privately run conservation and heritage group that oversees some of the country's most scenic and historic properties.

Authorities pleaded for continuing public cooperation with the increasingly restrictive rules - which, this being Britain, hardly anyone is heard to grumble about.

``The measures we have in place are the right ones to control the disease,'' said Agriculture Minister Nick Brown. ``I know they are very harsh.''

There were fears the disease would spread to continental Europe - thousands of British-exported animals have been destroyed in France, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands, although no cases have yet been found - and human visitors from Britain were beginning to feel a bit unwelcome as well.

On Thursday, Portugal announced anyone arriving from the United Kingdom would have to dip their shoes in disinfectant. In French ports, authorities sprayed the tires of arriving trucks with disinfectant.

The British government reminded people leaving the country on ferries, planes and trains to toss out uneaten sandwiches and cartons of milk - the blanket ban on exporting meat or milk applies to personal travelers as well.

The inexorable march of the disease - which sickens only cloven- hoofed creatures like pigs, cattle and sheep but can be spread by just about anything that moves - continued across Britain, where cases are now reported in more than 30 separate locales. And the first cases have been confirmed in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Foot-and-mouth hasn't made its way across the border into the Republic of Ireland, but cases turned up at a farm along the frontier, prompting fears that it would soon spread south.

Officials were already wringing their hands over the effect on Ireland's farm-heavy economy. The Irish parliament was holding a special debate on the foot-and-mouth crisis.

All weekend sports events were off in Ireland, and a cherished national institution was under threat - the annual St. Patrick's Day parade in Dublin.

The committee that organizes it was reluctantly considering calling it off, although ``a cancellation would leave an enormous gap,'' said spokeswoman Maria Moynihan.

At the border between Northern Ireland and the republic, traffic backed up for miles Thursday as officials stopped cars to ask drivers whether they were carrying meat or milk.

More than 25,000 livestock have been destroyed so far in Britain, where killing herds in infected zones is considered the only means of eradicating the disease.

The country's main agriculture group, the National Farmers' Union, estimated Thursday that if the outbreak is not brought under control within three months, it would cost the industry $1.2 billion. A meatpackers' union said more than 1,000 people have been laid off at processing plants so far, and thousands more could face the same fate.

Consumers were just beginning to feel the effects. One major supermarket chain, Asda, confirmed that one of its large stores, in the north of England, had run out of pork and lamb.

The outbreak may even have inspired thieves to make a daring heist - of meat.

Police said Thursday a haul of beef, pork and lamb worth about $15,000 was stolen from a warehouse in Cambridgeshire, north of London, earlier this week - probably by thieves anticipating they could then sell it at premium prices.

-- Ken S. in WC TN (scharabo@aol.com), March 01, 2001.

I talked to my Mum and Dad this morning. They're in the North West county of Lancashire. The disease has arrived in their neighbouring town - just 3 miles up the road. Their milk man is worried sick that his herd will be infected. - milk is delivered door to door - It's a terrible situation. Children living in the country aren't allowed to go to school. Things are pretty much grinding to a halt.

Even though there are no imports of British cattle, with so many people traveling these days I don't think we can rule out the spread of the disease to the US.

(Maybe there's a reason I couldn't go home this spring!)

Pauline NC

-- Pauline (tworoosters_farm@altavista.com), March 01, 2001.

I talked with a friend from the UK and she remembers another outbreak when she was only three. Her parents were farmers and it almost broke them. She told of how there was disinfectant by every lane and people were afraid to walk anywhere. It is so sad...more farmers going broke!

-- Ardie from WI (a6203@hotmail.com), March 02, 2001.

These are public footpaths in the UK--open to anyone-- and they do cross through privately owned property, which is perfectly legal. Nobody seems to mind as this is an old tradition and very nice, actually. You can hike amongst sheep and rolling hills. I can see how this would spread the disease and be a problem. Every square foot of Britain has been farmed at some point, and being agriculture is a major form of commerce there, a contagious disease such as this can devestate the industry.

-- amy (acook@in4web.com), March 02, 2001.

It has now spread... Not only Ireland and England... Wales, etc. and Scotland, too.... And in Europe... Also in Equadore and several other places. US is still importing from some of these countries.

If you want more information, there are lots of places to get it.... one is BHM's board, a member there is rightin the middle of it... He is still posting, though, as there was a message this morning. Also, any of the major news .coms.... ABC, NBC, WGN, CNN and also on the 'Breaking News' section of Earthchangestv.com

Its really scarey over there.... there isn't a single person untouched by the tragedy, and the farmers are starting to give up altogether...

-- Sue Diederich (willow666@rocketmail.com), March 02, 2001.

March 3, 2001 Britain, the Isle of Contagion By FELICITY SPECTOR ONDON -- On the roads leading to the tiny island of Anglesey, just off the coast of Wales, men have been laying down mats soaked in disinfectant, to ward off the spread of infection. Country pathways across Britain are cordoned off; sacks filled with garbage and mail lie lopsided at intervals along rural roads. Parks, forests and the gateways to farmhouses are bolted and barred, many displaying hastily erected "No Entry" signs. The normally idyllic British countryside has effectively been closed off.

An outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease, a viral infection, has turned much of Britain into a country from another age suddenly, shockingly medieval. Though there is little chance the disease can affect humans, it is highly contagious for animals and can be carried by anything: the wind, birds, the wheels of cars, the soles of shoes. Once the disease strikes a herd of cows or a flock of sheep, the only way to stop it from spreading is to isolate the infected animals and destroy them. Across the United Kingdom, livelihoods are going up in smoke, for once a single sign of the infection is discovered, any cloven-hooved animals on the lot like pigs, sheep or cattle must be slaughtered, and in many cases their carcasses must be burned.

Everyone here is beginning to feel we are living in a state under siege. Traveling to the Welsh countryside last weekend to visit friends, I stayed in it seemed simpler not to go out at all rather than risk any contact with the virus. Travel abroad and you are likely to get stopped before disembarking. Your bags will be checked for foodstuffs. Your car and you may even be sprayed with disinfectant. The Irish government has gone so far as to instruct visitors who have been near a farm to shower, wash their hair and scrub under their nails before entering the country.

All of this won't exactly help ease Britain's reputation as the agricultural pariah of Europe. Coming so soon after the discovery of mad cow disease among the cattle in this area, this could not have happened at a worse time for British farmers. Most farm families are struggling on the edge. Now there is simply a mounting sense of panic.

Even in areas that are disease- free, many farmers are too terrified to leave their homes, fearing they might unwittingly transmit the virus to their land. They are unable to take their animals to market and in the meantime they must feed them, house them and keep them warm. About three-quarters of British land is agricultural, but this disaster is not confined to rural areas. Supermarkets are raising their prices as they begin to run out of meat. Thousands of workers in the slaughter industry and meat processing plants could be laid off in the next few days.

Along with our fear, we feel a sense of disbelief. How, we wonder, could our country an industrial power be so quickly brought to a virtual standstill?

We like to believe, in these 21st- century days, that science and technology have the answer to everything. Surely modern medicine has brought us beyond the days when the only solution to an infectious disease was to burn entire herds of livestock, to close vast swaths of the countryside, to soak rags and spread them on the roads. Very quickly, we've found ourselves adjusting to daily life interrupted by these archaic precautions; modernity, it seems, is far more fragile than we'd like to believe.

Felicity Spector is a senior producer at Independent Television News's Channel Four News.

-- Ken S. in WC TN (scharabo@aol.com), March 03, 2001.

More on F&MD.

NEWS RELEASE Texas Animal Health Commission Box l2966 *Austin, Texas 78711 *(800) 550-8242* FAX (512) 719-0719 Linda Logan, DVM, PhD* Executive Director For info, contact Carla Everett, information officer, at 1-800-550- 8242, ext. 710, or ceverett@tahc.state.tx.us

For Immediate Release-- Foot-and-Mouth Disease Marches Westward Animal Health Officials Fear Spread of Virus

Animal health officials in Texas are watching with concern the relentless westward march of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD), the most recent outbreak of which was confirmed in late February at several sites in England, where livestock operations already have been financially ravaged by the brain-wasting disease, BSE (bovine spongiform encephalopathy) and outbreaks of the viral infection, hog cholera.

Additional cases of FMD have been detected among cattle, sheep and swine in Great Britain (encompassing England, Wales and Scotland). In addition to the loss of thousands of animals, British farmers may lose as much as $73 million just from the week-long ban (which could be extended) on the transport and marketing of livestock susceptible to the disease.

FMD, which has not been seen in the U.S. since l929, is caused by a highly infectious virus that can cause death or disabling blisters and sores in and around the mouth, muzzle, teats and feet of livestock with cloven or "split" hooves. Cattle, pigs, sheep, goats and deer are highly susceptible, and can exhibit clinical disease signs after an incubation period of only three to eight days. To stop the spread of infection, affected or exposed animals must be slaughtered, then burned or buried. Premises and equipment must be disinfected to prevent disease spread.

"Foot and mouth virus poses special challenges, requiring proper disinfection and biosecurity protocols. People who have worked around or been near infected animals can inadvertently carry and spread the virus via their equipment, cars, clothing, shoes, or even for a short time in their lungs or pharynx (throat)," said Linda Logan, Texas' state veterinarian and head of the Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC), the state's livestock health regulatory agency. She pointed out that studies indicate the virus can drift up to 40 miles on the wind, another hurdle to confining an FMD outbreak to a defined geographic area.

"FMD is probably the most economically damaging livestock disease," The disease is currently affecting four of the world's seven continents: Asia, Africa, South America and Europe, leaving only North America, Australia and Antarctica free of the disease.

"An outbreak costs a country millions of dollars to fight, and thousands of animals can be lost. Additionally, livestock markets must be closed to prevent spread of infection, dairies may not be able to operate, and transportation of livestock must cease. Furthermore, there's the cost of depopulating and disposing of affected or exposed animals and vaccinating 'clean animals' to create a disease-free 'buffer zone,'" said Dr. Logan, a specialist in tick-borne and foreign animal diseases. She also serves on a national team reviewing how best to safeguard U.S. livestock from foreign diseases and pests. Dr. Logan urged livestock producers in Texas to be step up their surveillance and to take precautions to protect herds from possible contamination. "If you've traveled internationally, don't risk carrying disease home to your herd. Disinfect your boots before working with your livestock. Producers who feed wastefood to swine should be particularly careful to ensure that all scraps are well cooked," she said. She also suggested that producers limit vehicle traffic and visitors onto their premise, and keep new animals isolated for several days prior to adding them to the existing herd.

"If your livestock become lame or develop blisters or sores, call us at 1-800-550-8242. Our emergency response within the first 24 hours after the first signs of disease will affect our outcome over the next six months," Dr. Logan said. The TAHC and U.S. Dept. of Agriculture's Veterinary Services in Texas operate the toll-free number 24 hours a day for emergency calls.

While FMD vaccine is available, Dr. Logan said it is used only in emergencies, to create a "disease-free" buffer zone around an infected area. Because vaccinated animals will test positive, they cannot be shipped internationally and protocols require the animals to be destroyed as soon as the disease is eradicated.

"Most importantly, FMD outbreaks result in trade embargoes imposed by other countries," said Dr. Logan.

"South Korea, for instance, had been free of FMD since l934, but was struck by the virus in late March 2000," she reported. "Producers in that country intended to export $400 million worth of pork in 2000, but Japan and its other trading partners immediately shut their doors to South Korean exported animals and products. It can take years to be declared disease-free and reestablish international marketing opportunities."

"Consider the damage to our economy, if we were to have the disease introduced into the U.S. and exports of live animals and meat were prohibited. Last year, the U.S. shipped out more than $4.2 billion worth of these commodities. Texas ranked third among all states, shipping out more than $736 million in animals and meat products," she said.

"For years, we worried about domestic regulatory diseases that are 'tame' compared to the devastation of foreign animal diseases," said Dr. Logan. "A global economy brings with it global risks, and we must be prepared for the inevitable threats posed by international trade and travel."

"I am particularly concerned when cases of FMD occur close to a highly populated area--or near a major international airport," said Dr. Max Coats, who heads up the TAHC's animal health programs and field operations. "Because of the virus' ability to ride the wind, it's possible that ranching or farming equipment being exported by affected countries could be contaminated, It may sound far-fetched, but with a disease of this impact, we're always concerned about potential scenarios. Within 24 hours, an animal, animal product, person or piece of equipment can be transported nearly anywhere in the world. There's always a chance that a virus, pest or dangerous bacteria will be hitching the ride, too."

"Then there are the items travelers like to tote on long flights, such as sandwiches, delicacies or other food items that could be contaminated by the virus," he said. Although direct flights from countries affected by FMD are checked carefully, Dr. Coats said there's always a risk that contaminated items could be smuggled or inadvertently brought into the country by the millions of visitors and returning U.S. citizens who travel internationally. Around 4.5 million British residents, for example, came to the U.S. on direct flights in l999.

During the past year, more than a dozen countries have been plagued by outbreaks of FMD, and the virus continues to migrate westward, noted Dr. Logan. In early March 2000, Japan reported its first cases since l908, and Japanese authorities laid blame on imported straw contaminated with the virus.

"Within two weeks of the initial case, Japanese livestock authorities checked more than 25,000 dairies, nearly 27,000 beef cattle farms and almost 3,700 pig farms to determine if there was additional infection," said Dr. Logan. "If this scenario occurred in Texas, the TAHC field staff would be unable to handle this enormous task alone, and we would have to summon help from private veterinary practitioners, our partners within the state's emergency management system, and our federal counterparts in the USDA." (Of the 215 TAHC'ers about 100 are livestock inspectors and around 20 are veterinarians.)

"Swine are highly efficient and effective hosts for FMD," said Dr. Coats. "And, with more than two million wild or feral swine in Texas, our challenge would be nearly insurmountable if the disease became established in this free-ranging population."

By Valentine's Day 2000, reports indicated that more than 500 animals had died from the disease in eastern Mongolia, a large country bordered on the south and east by China (also affected) and by Russia to the north. A year later, FMD outbreaks continue in Mongolia, where winter blizzards also wiped out more than 1.5 million animals.

By Easter last year, Russia reported cases among swine herds in its eastern regions, and in late spring, infection was detected at a pig farm in Kazakhstan, which shares borders with China and Russia. In August, infection drifted southward into the small country of Tajikstan where cases among cattle and sheep herds were reported.

Two free-grazing cattle herds in northeastern Greece, near the Turkish border, were struck by the disease in July 2000, and surrounding cattle, goat and swine herds were destroyed. In the fall, Turkish governmental authorities requested more than $43 million in international aid to curtail livestock smuggling in its eastern and southeastern regions and stop the introduction of FMD and its potential spread into Europe.

South American countries were hit by infection in late summer 2000, said Dr. Coats. Paraguay was struck first in early August, followed by outbreaks in Uruguay and Colombia. Argentinean officials blamed their country's outbreak on cattle smuggled from Paraguay. An Argentinean newspaper reported that as many as 20,000 head were illegally smuggled in from Paraguay.

When a Brazilian dairy was hit by the disease, the Brazil's minister of agriculture reported that he suspected bioterrorism, as the virus was of a different strain than the one detected in Paraguay and Argentina. (FMD virus has as many as seven types and 70 differing strains.)

"Argentina is the world's fourth-largest cattle-production country, and producers had planned to expand their exports by $5 billion in 2000. Brazil is the world's largest exporter of beef. Both countries lost their marketing opportunities when FMD hit the countries," said Dr. Coats.

"When infection spread to Uruguay, the military shut down all human and animal movement and dropped food into the restricted area from helicopters," said Dr. Logan, who visited the country last fall. "Animals in the affected area were euthanized and buried within 24 hours, which stopped the spread of disease. Uruguayan officials and producers had prepared for such an outbreak ahead of time by setting up funds to pay producers for their livestock losses."

FMD also wreaked havoc in South Africa in summer 2000, when viral-contaminated wastefood was off-loaded from a foreign vessel and fed to swine. "This situation mirrored the scenario for the tabletop emergency disease exercise in November, conducted cooperatively by the U.S., Canada and Mexico," said Dr. Coats. "In the simulated outbreak, a South Texas producer collected contaminated wastefood from a foreign ship and fed it to his pigs. Within two weeks, routine livestock marketing and movement could have spread the disease across Texas and into several states and Canada. We estimated it would have cost $50 million to eradicate the disease just in Hidalgo County."

"We're monitoring the movement of FMD closely. Buffer zones and existing prevention efforts seem to have failed, as one after another, countries are hit by the disease," said Dr. Coats. "Foreign animal diseases, like FMD, are the 'gift that keeps on giving,' as demonstrated by the 2001 resurgence of infection in Taiwan, after the country lost nearly all of its swine herds in l997 outbreaks."

"This most recent FMD outbreak affecting Great Britain was initially detected by a veterinarian inspecting pigs at a slaughter plant in a town northeast of London. Since then, cases have been disclosed throughout Great Britain, which has about 157,000 livestock farms," commented Dr. Coats. He said British authorities believe the virus may have been introduced through the feeding of contaminated wastefood to swine. Sheep on a nearby farm were exposed and may have spread infection to as many as 25,000 animals when they were hauled to three markets.

"Livestock shows in Great Britain have been cancelled, and animal parks and zoos have been closed. Horse events also have been postponed, even equine are not susceptible to the disease. Fears are that the virus could be carried and spread either by the horses' hooves or by the vehicles used to transport the animals," commented Dr. Coats. He said French authorities are destroying more than 47,000 British sheep that were recently imported. He pointed out that, in Germany, authorities are taking precautions, destroying susceptible animals that were recently shipped in from Great Britain. In the Netherlands, more than 4,300 susceptible livestock and deer have been killed on farms that have links to Great Britain. Livestock markets in the Netherlands also are being closed for a week, he said.

"Worldwide, nearly two-thirds of the FMD outbreaks are attributed to the introduction and feeding of contaminated meat, meat products or garbage to animals," said Dr. Logan. She said about a quarter of infection is spread by airborne transmission, and about 10 percent is comprised of infected livestock importations or contaminated objects and people."

"The FMD situation is a lot like watching a hurricane develop. We can't pinpoint its next landfall, but we know its direction. We must be prepared to take action immediately if the virus is introduced into the U.S.-- or Texas," said Dr. Logan.

-- Ken S. in WC TN (scharabo@aol.com), March 03, 2001.

What is the seriousness of humans eating an exposed yet not visibly ill animal? I understand it is easily spread but they are acting like it is ebola. Is it as serious as chickenpox (or measles) in humas or more so like small pox?

Interestingly enough, a few years ago we got the human version of this. My daughter had sores in her mouth (white and painful), fever, and itchy sore sores (under the skin not open) on her palms and soles of her feet. Went through the family like wildfire and we sometimes get recurring itchy sore spots on our hands. Wierd disease.


-- Amy Richards (amysgarden2@earthlink.net), March 07, 2001.

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