The catastrophic cost of Foot and Mouth Disease
Foot and Mouth disease has never completely disappeared. Although it has been almost 20 years since the last major outbreak of Foot and Mouth disease in the UK, which cost the industry more than £8 Billion, it does not mean that the disease is not still a very real risk to the economy.
This August the first outbreak since 2001 in the UK was identified at an abattoir in Brentwood in Essex. Discovered in a total of 27 pigs as confirmed by a veterinary inspector. As soon as the outbreak was confirmed an exclusion zone was placed by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAFF). Although contained it is not confirmed that it has been fully eradicated within the initial five-mile exclusion zone in-place around the abattoir and the two farms currently suspected of housing the pigs. Testing will be carried out across the region involving thousands of animals and dozens of farms. Investigations will begin with the zones originally identified to find the original source of the infection.
It is outbreaks such as these that reinforce how maintaining site biosecurity is essential. Ensuring all visitors are appropriately trained and practicing the latest Biosecurity measures alongside minimising unnecessary visitors to your site. This is one of many benefits in managing your own incineration onsite, reducing the risk of contamination being brought onto your site and the ability to rapidly react to any incidents as they do occur.
Foot and Mouth disease commonly affects cloven-hoofed animals such as pigs, cows, sheep, goats and other cattle breeds. The initial symptoms begin with lameness and a lack of appetite. This is followed by blistering in the mouth caused by excess salivation and between the toes and heels. These swell and burst leaving large painful ulcers in their place which can take weeks to heal. Unlike other diseases, it is not highly fatal only really being a major concern for infant animals. However, the infected animals cease to gain weight and dairy cows stop producing milk.
Highly viral spreading rapidly by breath, saliva, mucus, milk, and faeces the infection can be spread up to four days before symptoms are visible. With sheep, the symptoms can be minimal making them extremely damaging form of contagion. Due to the breeds affected by cross contamination, it is vital that action is taken rapidly to contain any spread.
Without a clear vaccine to protect against all strains of the ‘Foot and Mouth ‘ virus, the only consistent prevention is to ensure strict biosecurity is in place treating any outbreak quickly reducing it’s spread to prevent a country losing its foot and mouth free status.
This is due to the fact that the greatest damage comes from the impact on trade in livestock and livestock by-products. Infected livestock has to be humanely culled and disposed of potentially, crippling the supply chain and reducing the export opportunities of countries affected.
It is vital to not let Foot and Mouth disease get out of control as almost happened in South Africa in 2017 following a similar outbreak which was also restricted through strict control zones. If they had lost their Foot and Mouth Free status they would have been prevented exporting any Livestock, Game and their by-products the impact of this could have cost the South African Economy as much as 6 Billion Rand (approx. £300,000,000 GBP / $400,000,000 USD). South Africa previously lost its Foot and Mouth Free Status in 2011 only to regain it again in 2014 as such they were extremely dedicated to eradicating and controlling further outbreaks.
What are you currently doing to manage your Biosecurity and protecting your business from the costs of such an outbreak? At Addfield all our engineers are experts in biosecurity and we can assist you at every stage of installing and maintaining your own on-site incineration. Contact us for more information on why our machines are trusted across more than 95 countries globally.
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