UK 2001: On February 20, 2001, a pig was diagnosed with FMD at a slaughterhouse in Essex. Although this was the first animal diagnosed with the disease, it was not believed that the slaughterhouse in Essex was the source of the outbreak. The animal was traced to Burnside Farm in Northumberland where up to 90 percent of the herd were exhibiting the severe foot lesions characteristic of FMD. No report had been made to local veterinarians.
Burnside Farm was a pig finishing unit that was licensed to use processed garbage (food scraps) as feed. Processed garbage has been boiled to an internal temperature of at least 212o F in order to kill harmful pathogens before use as feed. After a careful inspection of the feed storage facilities at Burnside Farm, it was determined that the pigs were fed unprocessed garbage that was contaminated with the FMD virus.
Although FMD was diagnosed on February 23, 2001 at Burnside Farm, further investigation and dating of the skin lesions placed the actual date of exposure between January 26 and February 7. The delay in diagnosing FMD allowed the disease to become an epidemic across the UK. The disease began to spread through the movement of infected pigs from Burnside Farm to the slaughterhouse. From there, the virus was carried mechanically (on clothes, equipment, etc.) through various areas of Essex. The disease also spread through airborne transfer from Burnside Farm to a neighboring sheep farm. The infected sheep were sold before an FMD diagnosis was made and spread the disease throughout England, Scotland and Wales.
A total of 2,026 cases of FMD were confirmed between February 20 and September 30, 2001. According to the OIE, over 6 million cattle, sheep, swine and goats were slaughtered to stop the spread of the disease. In all, this epidemic is estimated to have cost the UK economy £7 billion.
DEFRA - Origin of the UK Foot and Mouth Disease Epidemic 2001
House of Commons Library - Foot and Mouth Disease
Taiwan 1997: On March 19, 1997, a sow at a farm in Hsinchu was diagnosed with a strain of FMD that infected swine only. The cause of this outbreak remains unknown, however, the farm was located near a port city with a thriving pig smuggling industry and illegal slaughterhouses. It is likely that the FMD was introduced through contaminated meat scraps or introduction of smuggled swine into the herd.
Once the index case was diagnosed, the disease spread rapidly through the swine herds in Taiwan. There are several reasons why the disease spread so rapidly:
- very high swine density
- garbage feeding
- hog farms close to slaughterhouses
- frequent social farm visits
- incomplete diagnostic laboratory capability
- no vaccination program
In addition to these problems, swine vesicular disease (SVD) was endemic to Taiwan. The clinical signs of this disease are virtually indistinguishable from FMD. To further complicate matters, laboratory analysis was often not employed to diagnose SVD. Therefore, it is likely that several reported cases of SVD were actually FMD. Also, once FMD was confirmed, there was considerable delay between diagnosis and the implementation of depopulation and disposal. Finally, the indemnity payments offered to farmers for swine infected with FMD were often more than the market value of the pig leading many farmers to intentionally introduce FMD onto their farms.
These factors contributed to the rapid spread of FMD across Taiwan and the destruction of over 3.8 million swine at an estimated cost of US $6.9 billion. Prior to this outbreak, Taiwan had been the leading exporter of pork to Japan. The disease devastated the Taiwanese pig industry and eliminated the export market.
UK 1967: On October 25, 1967 a farmer at Bryn Farm in Shropshire reported a lame sow to a local veterinarian. She was diagnosed with FMD. It is believed that the sow contracted FMD from eating swill that contained legally imported lamb from Argentina contaminated with the virus. The farm was placed under quarantine and a ban on animal movement was put into effect. The infected pigs generated a plume of FMD virus that spread to the nearby Ellis Farm.
Two cows from the Ellis Farm had already been shipped to the market prior to the ban on animal movement. Although the disease was reported quickly and animal movement restricted, 442,285 animals were slaughtered. The outbreak cost an estimated £370 million. It is believed that the FMD virus was spread through wind, birds and rodents.
This outbreak caused the government to place tighter controls on imports from countries with FMD and improve animal hygiene and health.
University College London - Foot and Mouth Disease: The 1967 Outbreak and its aftermath