South Dakota: Martial Law Possible For Hoof And Mouth : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

Janklow: Use martial law to save livestock


Argus Leader

published: 5/18/01

Freedom-loving South Dakotans should be prepared to live with quarantines, a ban on travel and even martial law if foot-and-mouth disease comes to the state, Gov. Bill Janklow said Thursday in Sioux Falls.

Janklow told more than 600 people at his conference on animal diseases that such extreme and unpleasant actions would be shocking in a state and nation where people value freedom. But they might be needed temporarily to protect the livestock industry from being devastated by the contagious disease.

"This would be the equivalent of biological warfare, and we would have to treat it like we were at war from day one," Janklow said while outlining his foot-and-mouth contingency plan. "If we're going to go to war, everybody's got to be in it."

Janklow organized and moderated a panel of animal-disease experts to discuss foot-and-mouth disease, mad cow disease and chronic wasting disease. He and state health officials think foot-and-mouth is the greatest disease threat to the state.

Dr. Alfonso Torres, deputy administrator for veterinary services of the federal Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, praised Janklow for being the first governor to call such a conference.

"We have one of the healthiest, most productive livestock industries in the world. We want to keep it that way," Torres said.

Janklow presented battle plans should the disease be confirmed in North America or in or near South Dakota.

It ranged from activating the South Dakota National Guard and a variety of law enforcement agencies to a freeze on livestock from other states, the closure of auction barns and temporary bans on movement by people and livestock.

Farms could be quarantined and martial law declared, giving the military jurisdiction over affected areas.

Janklow said he hopes that won't be necessary, but that the state must be prepared just in case.

Janklow also recommended that South Dakotans not travel to countries with affected livestock until further notice.

During the past 18 months, it has been confirmed in 34 countries. The latest outbreaks were in Great Britain, Northern Ireland, Argentina and France. North America is believed to be free of the disease.

The last major outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in the United States was in the 1920s. But it is common in many parts of the world. Its well-publicized impact in the United Kingdom has been devastating to the livestock industry, tourism and the overall economy.

The foot-and-mouth virus is in the same family as the common cold, and even more difficult to handle. It is easily killed by heat and disinfectant, but mutates constantly to make vaccines largely ineffective.

The virus can be exhaled by the trillions by infected animals. In humid conditions, it can be carried in the air for more than 60 miles.

People aren't infected but can carry the active virus on their clothing, shoes, food or in their respiratory system, spreading it to susceptible animals.

It only affects animals with split hooves, including cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, elk and deer.

Although the disease usually isn't fatal, it gives the infected livestock sores on the mouth, nose and feet. That hurts production of meat and milk and, even worse, destroys consumer confidence in the products, Janklow said.

Torres said more diseases and different strains of the same disease are creating challenges for disease-control specialists. And the development of large farms with thousands of animals with similar genetics makes them more susceptible to disease.

"We are losing the innate resistance we have in animals against these diseases," Torres said.

It's important that other states take South Dakota's lead and develop their own response plans, he said. Agriculture officials from surrounding states also attended the conference.

Experts also discussed other livestock diseases, including bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), more commonly called mad cow disease. The disease is best known for it damage to the cattle industry in Great Britain.

It isn't as contagious as foot-and-mouth disease, but because it has been connected to a variation of a fatal brain disorder -- Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease -- that has infected about 90 people in the United Kingdom, it evokes strong emotion and fear in the public.

Government protection include the prohibition of the imports of live cattle and other ruminants, as well as related products, from countries that have had the disease. It is believed to have spread among cattle that were given feed that included meat and bone meal made from infected animals.

That practice is now banned.

Dr. Elizabeth Williams, a diagnostic pathologist and professor of veterinary science at the University of Wyoming, spoke on chronic wasting disease. The disease is in the same family as mad-cow disease, but it affects deer and elk and hasn't been known to cross over to infect humans.

South Dakota animal health officials confirmed it in captive elk herds in 1997. Through quarantines, tighter regulations and the killing of infected herds, the problem has been eliminated.

"You should feel proud, because South Dakota has been a leader in developing chronic wasting programs," Williams said.

-- William in Wi (, May 18, 2001


I have an interesting article about chronic wasting disease and hunter/consumers of venison who have died with JCD that was in Field and Stream last February. I also have a copy of a petition to the current administration about dealing with FMD more reasonably should it show up in the States. I will be happy to send either or both as attachments to anyone who is interested.

-- marilyn (, May 19, 2001.

Janklow likes to talk big and his time is almost done as governor. However, isn't it good sense to have a plan to put into action?? South Dakota is an agricultural state. We have a lot of cattle, hogs, sheep, deer, etc. I would hate to see the martial law but I think he meant that in an extreme. Life is very simple here in South Dakota. I was raised in North Dakota and have lived in SD for the past 12 years. We should have to do what it takes to save South Dakota's livestock, or keep the disease from spreading to other states, so be it. Have you heard what other states have for a plan?

-- JoAnn in SD (, May 21, 2001.

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