Iowa gets prepared to tackle F&M outbreak : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Iowa gets prepared to tackle outbreak

By JERRY PERKINS Register Farm Editor 04/17/2001

Iowans are planning for the unthinkable: an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease that could paralyze the state's multibillion-dollar livestock industry. Geography, large herds and frequent visits to Iowa farms by foreign agricultural experts make Iowa more vulnerable than other states to an outbreak, say Iowa experts.

Officials here are paying close attention as Europe wrestles with the worst outbreak of the disease in three decades.

Iowa Agriculture Secretary Patty Judge and others began making plans two weeks ago to handle an outbreak. If foot-and-mouth disease shows up in Iowa, they said, the following measures are possible:

l The National Guard and the Iowa State Patrol could be called on to set up blocks on roads leading to farms where livestock have contracted the malady.

l All livestock on quarantined farms would be killed and burned.

l Farm families inside the quarantined zone could be confined to their homesteads. No mail would be delivered in what officials call "the hot zone." School buses would not roll down the gravel roads to pick up children.

l Packing plants suspected of taking in infected livestock would be shut down and thousands of workers furloughed.

l Iowa's 200,000 deer would become targets because they can carry foot-and-mouth disease from county to county. All deer found within 15 miles of a farm with the disease would be hunted down and killed.

l Meat could be banned from export for at least two years.

Iowa's 57,000 cattle, hog and sheep producers could lose $6 billion to $9 billion a year as long as foot-and-mouth disease is suspected in the state.

The disease has not been found in the United States since 1929.

Recent outbreaks worldwide are being viewed with more concern than in the past for two reasons.

There is more worldwide movement of animals today, increasing the chances of the disease being spread by direct contact. Also, more people travel abroad, increasing the likelihood of travelers picking up the virus in clothing or other personal possessions and spreading it indirectly.

The outbreak in England is somewhat smaller than one that occurred there in 1967, but new communications technology has dramatically increased awareness of that country's farm problem.

-- Martin Thompson (, April 19, 2001


The only problem with the above plan is that according to some in the UK, F and M disease spreads faster than killing animals can take place. Hence killing animals can't keep up with it as is being proved in the UK right now. Vaccination is being considered, but imagine, if you will, after killing hundreds of thousands or millions of animals, healthy and ill, for someone to come along and say, "We didn't think this through, we didn't choose the right solution, and we are now going to vaccinate all animals. Sorry for the mistake!" Someone with some smarts is going to have to be involved here, and think this problem through or there could be a big disaster just like in the UK. Charlie

-- Charlie (, April 19, 2001.

Hi Charlie, we sure hope someone with brains will enter the situation. Iowa farmers are a little unnerved with this article and the possibilities. suzy

-- suzy (Its suzy, April 19, 2001.

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