What would an outbreak of FMD do to the U.S.?

Cattle Market & Farm Reports, Editorials
Sep 4, 2006
by WLJ
In 2001 an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) in the United Kingdom (UK) resulted in catastrophic economic losses exceeding $15 billion. The cost to livestock producers was estimated to be nearly $1 billion and at least 6 million animals were slaughtered. Any outbreak of FMD in the US today, where the density of livestock animals is high, would likely be as devastating as the one that hit the UK in 2001.

With no recent FMD outbreak to use as an example, it is hard to predict how an outbreak might spread in today’s US. Current information on precise animal locations, movement and husbandry practices is not up to date, and this lack of information hampers the implementation of an effective response strategy. As a result, the US is left vulnerable to an FMD epidemic.

Supported by the Office of Homeland Security and the USDA, researchers at the Center for Animal Disease Modeling and Surveillance (CADMS) in the School of Veterinary Medicine at UC Davis, are developing a simulation model, designed to characterize the size and duration of an FMD epidemic anywhere in the U.S. The model will also be used to identify the best strategies, to contain an outbreak and minimize the impact to the livestock industry.

According to Dr. Carpenter, co-director of CADMS, “the exercise made it very clear that knowing the precise locations of livestock and the movements of animals, vehicles and people on and off the farm are critical in order to be able to predict where the disease will spread, as well as the magnitude of the outbreak.”

CADMS has already gathered data from livestock producers in the state of California and now the model is being expanded to encompass the entire nation. In order to obtain the necessary information for the model, an online survey will be available to livestock producers in the western states starting this October.

Clair Thunes, CADMS Project Manager, believes that all livestock producers will find the survey simple, educational and short to complete.

“The response from the livestock industry in California has been outstanding and we are hoping to get the same response from the rest of the country.” CADMS guarantees that all the information will be kept confidential and will only be used for modeling purposes.
For more information, please contact Pelayo Alverez by phone at 530/554-2988.