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Study simulates effects of foot-and-mouth disease outbreak in Mexico
Date:2/16/2012

outbreak of FMD in Mexico lasted for seven years and resulted in large losses in inventory with costs estimated over $250 million. More recently, an FMD outbreak in the United Kingdom in 2001 caused losses of between $3.6 and $11.6 billion with around 4 million animals slaughtered. Nogueira said the estimated costs for an outbreak today are much higher because it includes government costs of cleanup, producer costs, and consumer costs.

The study also recommended that Mexican cattle ranchers consider raising a heartier breed of cattle so that if an outbreak should occur, the herd could be repopulated more quickly.

"One of the characteristics of the cattle industry in Mexico is that birth rates and death rates of the young cattle are much higher than they are in the United States," Nogueira said. "A different breed of cattle could decrease those rates, but to do that would take a lot of education, extension and outreach activities to convince ranchers to switch from the type of cattle that they've been raising all of their lives."

Nogueira explained that FMD is not transmitted to humans when they eat the meat or are in contact with an infected cow. This makes the disease very different from mad-cow disease, but of course it is still devastating to cattle ranchers.

"It's a virus, so it spreads kind of like the flu to other cattle," Nogueira said. "To contain the virus, you have to either completely quarantine or slaughter the cattle.

Cattle exports are a very small percentage of Mexican total exports and primarily calves that are produced in the northern Mexican states exported to the United States. Because the percentage of calves exported to the United States is so small, it would likely not have much of an implication on the U.S. industry.

"Analyzing Mexico for the FMD outbreak was interesting because most of the countries that have been analyzed are much more dependent upon export," Nogueira said. "In thos
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Contact: Debra Levey Larson
dlarson@illinois.edu
217-244-2880
University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences
Source:Eurekalert

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