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Lessons Learned: UK Outbreak of Foot & Mouth Disease

Narrator: This is Science Today. The devastating 2001 outbreak of foot and mouth disease in the United Kingdom caused about five billion dollars in losses to the food and agriculture sector and even greater losses in tourism. Pam Hullinger, a veterinarian at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, was in England during that trying time to help out.

Hullinger: What I saw was not just the farmers and their families being affected, but the tourism industry was actually the most economically devastated industry in the United Kingdom . People didn't want to go to England and spend time there because it wasn't a pleasant place to be. They had to burn many of the carcasses early on.

Narrator: Hullinger recently took part in a federal effort to develop a rapid diagnostic test for foot and mouth disease, as well as six other similar diseases in livestock.

Hullinger: My goal is that if this disease ever occurs in the United States , we're going to be so much better positioned to respond to it. That people - that farmers and animals here - wont' nearly need to suffer to the degree they did in the UK . And I think that's a pretty powerful place to be.