As the US marks the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks this month, those in animal health circles are also marking the 10th anniversary of the 2001 outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in the United Kingdom. The disease was first confirmed on February 20 and a stop movement order was put in place on the 23rd. Unfortunately the disease had likely been spreading among susceptible livestock through hauling and marketing of animals since late January 2001. With that kind of head start before diagnosis, the disease was widespread by the time control measures were put in place.
The countryside was scarred in more ways than one by this highly contagious disease disaster. The funeral pyres, the burial trenches, the controversial culling of animals on premises contiguous to infected premises led to extraordinary public outcry against the handling of the outbreak. As the outbreak peaked, the government postponed general and local elections from May to June. Tourism and other rural businesses suffered collateral damage to the disease control policy, but were ineligible for indemnity (payments to farmers for loss of livestock). All told, 6 million animals were killed and 2026 farms in Great Britain were directly affected by the time the last case was diagnosed in September 2001. The outbreak was officially declared over in February 2002. The estimated cost of the outbreak was equivalent to $13 billion.
Learn what you can do to prevent or respond effectively to an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease. The following producer supported site is a great place to start: http://www.footandmouthdiseaseinfo.org/aboutfmd.aspx