SUMMITVILLE, Ohio – Foot-and-mouth disease has the potential to “ruin the livestock industry” in Ohio, admits Ohio Director of Agriculture Fred L. Dailey, but he does not believe it is inevitable that the disease will make its way into the United States.
Dailey traveled to Youngstown April 26 as part of Gov. Bob Taft’s regional cabinet meeting. In the afternoon, he met with a small group of Columbiana County farmers at Summitcrest Farms.
Foot-and-mouth disease is a highly contagious disease of ruminants and swine. The United States has been free of the disease since 1929, but a recent outbreak in Great Britain and other European and South American countries has been economically devastating in those countries. Most recently, two cases were confirmed in Uruguay April 25.
The state is currently refining its battle plan, should there ever be a foot-and-mouth disease outbreak. Dailey said ODA and other agencies, including the National Guard and county emergency officials, will run through a mock foot-and-mouth emergency exercise May 11.
Dailey said if foot-and-mouth disease is ever suspected in an animal, the first step will be immediate isolation, or quarantine, of that farm. The department has the authority to quarantine an operation even on the suspicion of the disease until test results are released.
If it is considered “highly likely” that animals have been exposed to foot-and-mouth disease, the area around the farm included in the quarantine will depend on factors such as weather and air currents, but it could be as broad as a 10-mile circle.
“The control of this disease is critical,” Dailey said.
On the national front, USDA is hiring 400 new inspection personnel and is doubling the size of its canine inspection teams. U.S. Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman has authorized an additional $32 million to hire 350 more inspectors and has reassigned 200 inspectors to critical ports of entry.
In Ohio, Dailey has helped initiate foot-and-mouth disease education on military bases where there is international travel; at international ports, such as Lake Erie; and at airports, such as Cleveland, where there is an incoming flight from England each day.
In the event of a foot-and-mouth diagnosis, Dailey said Veneman will declare a state of emergency, which immediately frees up Commodity Credit Corporation funds for compensation to livestock owners.
Details of such a compensation program are still unknown, but Dailey said a “fair market value” will likely be based on a “use value.”
The USDA and ODA are encouraging livestock producers to beef up barriers on their farms to prevent the spread of any contagious livestock disease.
“We get complacent,” said David Glauer DVM, head of ODA’s animal industry division. “Biosecurity is just one of those words that we need to reintroduce to our vocabulary.”
He recommends the following biosecurity measures:
* When a new animal moves onto a farm, farm owners should be sure that the health status and the source of the animal are known.
* Animals new or returning to a farm should be separated from the rest of the herd for at least two weeks.
* Farms should have one common entrance-exit with disposable boots or a disinfectant footbath provided for visitors.
* All footwear should be disinfected before entering and after leaving an animal housing area.
* Vehicles such as milk, feed, livestock and renderer collection trucks should be prohibited from driving through areas where animals are housed or feed is kept.
Since early March, the department has been stepping up disease surveillance at state-inspected slaughter plants, state-licensed dairy farms, livestock shows, livestock auctions, and concentration yards across Ohio.
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Vaccination not a cure-all for foot-and-mouth disease
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – As the U.S. livestock industry monitors for potential outbreaks of foot-and-mouth disease, some officials are debating whether susceptible animals should be vaccinated.
But Penn State Extension Veterinarian David Griswold says vaccinating is not a magic bullet.
There are several strains of the foot-and-mouth virus, and a vaccine against one strain won’t protect against others. And, not all vaccinated animals will develop immunity to the highly contagious disease.
Can be carriers.
“Vaccination also does not prevent animals who are exposed to the virus from taking that virus into their bodies and becoming carriers for extended periods of time. So although we immunize, we may not be preventing the infection or the carrier state,” Griswold said.
A further argument against vaccination is that, because it’s hard to tell a vaccinated animal from one that’s carrying the virus, many countries refuse to import meat products from countries that are vaccinating.
* There are 1,517 confirmed cases of foot-and-mouth disease in Great Britain, as of April 30.
* From the first foot-and-mouth disease case reported Feb. 20 in the U.K., as of April 30, the number of animals euthanized or identified for slaughter was 2,460,000.
* Ohio Department of Agriculture has a toll-free foot-and-mouth disease telephone helpline, 1-800-300-9755. Travelers wanting to know more before leaving or entering the United States should call the USDA toll-free hotline: 1-866-SAFGUARD.
USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service
Ohio Department of Agriculture
U.K. Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food