June 13, 2007
The Center for Animal Disease Modeling and Surveillance (CADMS) in the School of Veterinary Medicine at UC Davis has launched a nationwide research study aimed at protecting the livestock industry from the devastating consequences of foot-and-mouth disease.
Livestock producers throughout the nation are asked to participate in an online survey to gather data on animal movements and husbandry practices that will be used in a simulation model to predict the duration and magnitude of a foot-and-mouth disease outbreak, as well as determine the best strategies for containment. This project is being conducted in collaboration with the National Center for Foreign Animal and Zoonotic Diseases (FAZD) and is supported by the USDA and the Department of Homeland Security.
Foot-and-mouth (FMD) is one of the most highly contagious diseases affecting cloven-hoofed animals such as cattle, swine, sheep, goats and deer. In 2001 an outbreak of FMD in the United Kingdom resulted in catastrophic economic losses exceeding $15 billion. As a result, at least 6 million animals were slaughtered. In the US, the economic impact of an outbreak is estimated to be as high as $13 billion and every segment of the livestock industry would be severely affected.
FMD is on the top of the Department of Homeland Security's list for a bioterrorist attack on US agriculture. "Because it spreads so quickly and it is easily transmitted, the threat of FMD to the US is very serious and we need to be prepared," said Dr. Tim Carpenter, director of the study. "Our model will provide decision-makers with a valuable tool for rapid response and will help determine the best strategies, including vaccination, to contain an outbreak and minimize impact to the livestock industry".
With no recent cases of FMD in the US to use as an example (the last was in 1929) it is hard to predict how an outbreak might spread in today's globalized environment. Information about the distribution of livestock nationwide, animal movements and husbandry practices in the US is not up to date. This lack of current information hampers the implementation of an effective response strategy.
According to Dr. Carpenter, "the online survey will allow us to develop a model based on real, up-to-date data for animal movements and current practices that could determine how the disease spreads. Only livestock producers can provide us with this information. This model would put the US at the forefront in preparedness for not only foot-and-mouth but also other foreign animal diseases".
CADMS guarantees that all the information will remain confidential and will only be used for modeling purposes.
The online survey can be found at: http://www.cadms.ucdavis.edu
For more information please contact Pelayo Alvarez at: (530) 554-2988.