analytical Q May-Aug 2000 Sept-Dec 2000 Jan-Apr 2001 Discussion

The Diary
Anne Ku

20 April 2001 Friday





I first read about this while travelling in Germany in February. In the US, it's also called "Hoof and Mouth" because it affects cloven (split) hoofed animals. Apparently it's always been around (endemic). But because of increased transport of animals and globalisation of trade, it's hard to contain this virus.

Long ago, animals didn't have to die because of it. They were less productive, but they didn't have to die. The UK government decided on culling infected animals within 24 hours to prevent the spread of the disease. Vaccination was considered uneconomic because many countries would not import vaccinated meat. Also, the process required getting trained vets.

In today's Metro, it said that the foot and mouth epidemic could cost the economy 40 billion pounds, representing 4% of UK's gross domestic product. Although farmers may get compensated for the loss of their livestock, the tourist industry doesn't. Footpaths are closed. Rural bed and breakfasts and hotels have already felt a visible loss in business.

How does this affect my life? I don't live in the countryside. I can't smell the burning of animals. I don't eat meat. But I do wear leather shoes.

Total number of outbreaks in the UK:
14 Mar 200
24 Mar 560
26 Mar 604
31 Mar > 800
3 April - 1,000
20 April - 1,411
Cases of foot and mouth also found in Northen Ireland and the Netherlands.
More indepth information at the BBC site