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Archive for Monday, April 23, 2001

Kansas,Missouri to test defenses

April 23, 2001

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— Livestock experts in Missouri and Kansas are using simulations to test their states' responses to foot-and-mouth disease.

Missouri livestock experts will meet Tuesday in Jefferson City to use a hypothetical foot-and-mouth disease outbreak to test the state's emergency plan.

Up to 100 veterinarians, livestock industry representatives and emergency preparedness directors are expected to attend.

U.S. Department of Agriculture veterinarians from Missouri will discuss what they saw when they visited England to help battle the foot-and-mouth outbreak there.

In Kansas, cattle ranchers, feedlot operators, and government officials will meet May 9 to mull over a hypothetical outbreak. Kansas Livestock Commissioner George Teagarden said the session will explore how to deploy resources to keep an outbreak from spreading.

Existing plans in Kansas call for the euthanization and, most likely, burial of any herd that includes a confirmed case of foot-and-mouth, and quarantines of any other herds in a six-mile radius.

Agriculture officials want to make sure glitches are not hidden in the response plan.

"We'll use it for a preparedness check," said John Hunt, state veterinarian for the Missouri Department of Agriculture. "We need it to be ready right down to the county level."

Missouri's plan is geared mostly toward natural disasters, Hunt said. But it also has contingencies for contagious diseases.

The foot-and-mouth virus does not harm humans. But it causes painful blisters on the hooves and tongues of livestock, affecting production. The disease has led to livestock slaughters, trade restrictions to stop the disease from spreading, and tourism losses in infected areas.

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