News of the WeekInfectious Diseases

Rapid Response Could Have Curbed Foot-and-Mouth Epidemic

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Science  05 Oct 2001:
Vol. 294, Issue 5540, pp. 26-27
DOI: 10.1126/science.294.5540.26

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To stop a catastrophic outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease, the British government has so far destroyed almost 4 million pigs, sheep, and cattle--a strategy that has been criticized as overly zealous and draconian by some farmers and animal welfare activists. But new studies from two teams of British veterinary epidemiologists show that, if anything, the measures haven't been strict enough. If the government had implemented a more rigorous culling policy in the first phase of the epidemic, the total burden would have been much smaller, the researchers say--and millions of animals would have been saved.