Protect your cattle from Foot and Mouth Disease
January 21, 2019
My veterinarian colleagues that have been attending federal disease control meetings tell me that the USA expects to import FMD by allowing fresh and frozen meat products from infected countries to enter this country. Previously, this was not allowed. We now have free trade and foreign processing companies that are considered more relevant than disease prevention. The federal plan is to implement vaccination after the fact. FMD is like human flu, new strains/variants are the norm. Since all cloven hoofed animals (wild and domestic) are susceptible and infectious, the vaccine will not be reliable. It won't be administered at all to wild animals. (Diseased wild hogs anyone?)
The SBS plan has some unstated/overlooked problems:
1. Premise identification number
a. Australia has tried it. It worked poorly. Animals lose their id numbers (ear tags), and a live animal without an id number is not readily saleable to their packing plants that demand identifiable source/history for Chinese investors.
b. My husband and I worked with black footed ferrets. Coyotes that had enjoyed a ferret snack (or coyote scat) were official ferrets that could be tracked and studied. Beef eating wolves could easily have an id number and be an official beef steer.
c. There will always be dishonest people. During a disease (Brucellosis) trace back, they found that the official id number in question was still in a veterinarian's possession. Someone had manufactured and applied a "state official id number" to a random calf.
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2. A written biosecurity plan. Our ranch already practices biosecurity in the case of cattle diseases. Writing a plan would not protect us from FMD which affects all cloven hoofed animals, not just cattle.
3. Movement Records. Again, not all cloven hoofed animals are domestic. The deer, antelope, and elk on our range commonly outnumber our cattle and their movements are not controlled. Fortunately, we don't have wild pigs yet, but most states do. Imported pork is the cause of most FMD outbreaks in FMD-free countries.
4. Limited movement. We don't have the right or resources to control the movements of hunters, hikers, etc. They could bring us FMD or spread it just as they do noxious weeds. Federal police can't stop drug traffic. How could they stop FMD with many more species to carry it?
DVM, Hinsdale, MT