Here in Britain we’ll never forget how ten million animals were slaughtered when foot and mouth disease (FMD) spread through sheep, cattle, goats and pigs in 2001-2. We saw horrifying images of mass pyres burning the carcases. The disease broke out again in 2007. We’re now officially FMD-free here but it remains a notifiable disease.
I feel sick remembering the 2001-2 FMD epidemic. Our farmers faced export restrictions. In my own partner’s family, a dairy herd built up over four human generations was shot in a single day because the next-door neighbour’s animals got FMD.
It’s far from certain that the spread of FMD was handled well. What was done, was done, but I’ve heard experts at academic conferences say that it wasn’t done well. You can read opinion written about it in 2004 here.
FMD hasn’t been eradicated. Far from it. It’s still taken very seriously throughout the world, wherever cloven-hoofed animals are found. Today my fellow blogger petrel41 said that FMD has been found in wild sheep on the Tibetan plateau.