Pyres: 2001 UK FMD Outbreak - Photo: Murdo Macleod.  Slides L-R: Smallpox, SARS Coronavirus , Foot and Mouth Disease, West Nile Virus.

Humanitarian Resource Institute: Biodefense Reference Library. Republished Reference Paper.

December 2001
Impact of the Foot and Mouth Epidemic on the Equestrian Industry in the UK - A Reference Point for the United States
Stephen M. Apatow, Pathobiologics International
Director of Research and Development, Humanitarian University Consortium
Graduate Studies Center for Medicine, Veterinary Medicine and Law

Beginning in late February 2001, an outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD), one of the world’s most economically devastating livestock diseases spread throughout the UK with a smaller number of cases reported in France, the Netherlands and Ireland. To date, upwards of 2,030 cases have been recorded with 3,975,000 animals slaughtered on 9,493 premises. [1]

 The speed and extent of the Pan-Asian strain of type O FMD was considered unprecedented.  The spread of the FMD Virus within newly infected countries was mainly attributed to the movement of subclinically infected animals, principally of sheep, and via contact with contaminated vehicles used for the transportation of these animals.[2]

 In March, the Federation of Veterinarians of Europe (FVE) and the Union of European Veterinary Practitioners (UEVP) representing all the veterinarians of Europe shared the concern of the general public over the death and destruction of large numbers of animals, many of which were not infected with the disease.  A key issue in this discussion related to several factors, among which was the non-vaccination and “stamping out” policy adopted in the 1990’s to eradicate the disease and to open new export markets.[3]These challenges led to a call for the Paris-based Office International des Epizooties (OIE) to ensure the protective capacity of new vaccines and standardized tests which can differentiate between antibodies produced by vaccine and those produced by disease. [4][5]     In response to appeals by the international community, a number of proposed changes to the International Regulations were outlined by the OIE / FAO International Scientific Conference on Foot and Mouth Disease on April 17-18, 2001. [6]

The economic impact to the U.K. is estimated at approximately $20 billion (USD) that includes not only eradication and indemnity expenses, but also lost trade and tourism revenue. [7]

Impact of Foot and Mouth Outbreak on the Horse Industry in the United Kingdom

The epidemic of Foot and Mouth Disease in the United Kingdom had a devastating impact on the farming community and horse industry in the UK. 

After the first reported case of FMD on February 21, 2001, virtually all horse related sporting and recreational activity in UK ceased out of respect for the farming community, including racing. After the first week, racing resumed under strict hygiene and disinfection arrangements and a number of other equestrian sports, that could be held in areas from which farm animals could be excluded, started up again in five weeks under similar arrangements.  But eventing, point to pointing, hunting, endurance, driving, recreational riding, riding schools and almost all equine tourism did not resume and large areas of the countryside were closed to horses. [8]

In April, Michael Clayton from the British Horse Society stated, "Britain’s 1,800 riding schools were reporting losses of between 65-85% and some were completely closed. [9]  According to Leo Jeffcott, Chairman of the FEI Veterinary Committee and dean of the veterinary school at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom, the financial damage to the industry was extraordinary; pervading more businesses than any thought possible. Those affected included the saddlers, farriers, veterinary surgeons, feed, horse show caterers, course designers, photographers, suppliers of tents, portable stables, cleaning services, and so many more. The industry’s losses were estimated to reach $141.6 million (£100 million) a month in March, April, and May 2001. [10]

Economic Cost of Biosecurity

The effects of an agroterrorist attack of a Foreign Animal Disease, such as Foot and Mouth Disease, in the United States would extend beyond the agricultural sector with economic losses split into four categories.  These would include:

1. The expenditures in extra resources used as a consequence of the disease, whether they are private (drugs, veterinary services, etc.) or public (quarantine enforcement, depopulation, etc.)
2. The direct effects of the disease on the production system (lost production, animal deaths, lower prices, etc.)
3. The indirect and induced effects of the disease on the entire economy (lost employment, disruption to other industries linked directly or indirectly to the dairy and livestock industries in the infected area, etc
4. Losses caused by trade restrictions. [11]
Under provisions of Title 9 (Code of Federal Regulations), Part 53, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has the authority to pay up to 100% of the expenses of the purchase, destruction and disposition of animals and materials required to be destroyed because they were contaminated by or exposed to FMD. The USDA also pays for cleaning and disinfection of infected premises. [12]

Under current regulations, indemnity payments cover only the direct costs of animals and materials destroyed. It has been well documented, however, that the economic losses may exceed by several times the costs covered by the indemnity payments, as a result of trade disruptions. Consequential losses may be incurred not only by livestock producers but also by all industries linked directly and indirectly. [13]

The equine industry is a key example of an agricultural sector that would be directly impacted by an FMD outbreak.  This industry directly produces goods and services of $25.3 billion and has a total impact of $112.1 billion on U.S. gross domestic product.  Racing, showing and recreation each contribute more than 25% to the total value of goods and services produced by the industry.   The industry’s contribution to the U.S. GDP is greater than the motion picture services, railroad transportation, furniture and fixtures manufacturing and tobacco product manufacturing industries. It is only slightly smaller than the apparel and other textile products manufacturing industry. [14]


Agriculture represents one of America’s critical infrastructures that require a domestic preparedness program to protect an industry worth hundreds of billions of dollars that directly or indirectly employs millions of people. 

Though significant progress has been made since the September 11 attacks, concerns remain regarding the deliberate introduction of a Foreign Animal Disease (FAD) in multiple locations and/or with multiple pathogens that could potentially overwhelm an emergency response system.  In the context of this assessment, it is crucial that solid contingency plans are established that encompass the capacity to handle any threat against the U.S. food and agricultural system.  To accomplish this objective, veterinary and scientific experts have presented the following priority issues:

  • 1. The immediate need for Foreign Animal Disease training in schools and colleges of veterinary medicine and continuing education programs for veterinarians in the field. The lack of emphasis in training for the recognition of FAD's has compromised the capacity of many field veterinarians to recognize the diseases that were once a scourge of livestock and which initially led to the development of the profession itself. [15] This serious need has prompted the recent development of the Humanitarian Resource Institute Foreign Animal and Zoonotic Disease Center, which provides access to online educational resources for both medical and veterinary professionals. [16]
  • 2. Consistent required reporting of zoonotic animal diseases, especially bioterrorist agents, by veterinary health officials to public health officials in all 50 states.[17]
  • 3. A Foreign Animal Disease response plan that includes a vaccination strategy and capacity for rapid restoration of international exports to minimize potential widespread economic damage (constant with needs outlined at the OIE/FAO International Scientific Conference on foot and mouth disease 17-18 April  2001.)[18]
  • 4. The need for close coordination and support of the United States, Canadian and Mexican governments in the event a Foreign Animal Disease outbreak occurs first in their geographic region of North America. [19]
The challenge of domestic preparedness encompasses an immediate need for a heightened state of awareness of the present threat facing the agricultural sector as a potential terrorist target in conjunction with a unified collaborative strategic plan and commitment of government, livestock industries, farmer’s organizations and the general public to protect the U.S. Agricultural System. [20]


[1] DEFRA: UK Statistics on foot and mouth disease Number of affected premises at 17:00 06 December.
[2] OIE/FAO International Scientific Conference on foot and mouth disease 17-18 April2001, p. 3. Available at
[3] Federation of Veterinarians of Europe (FVE) Statement on Foot and Mouth Disease.3 April.2001. Available at
[4] Stephen M. Apatow, Foot & Mouth Disease - EU: Use of Vaccination(02), ProMED Mail. Available at
[5] Stephen M. Apatow, Perspective:Ring Vaccination -Common Sense ?. Available at
[6] OIE/FAO International Scientific Conference on foot and mouth disease 17-18 April 2001. Available at
[7] Ty Vannieuwenhoven , 2001 Convention News. American Veterinary Medical Association. Wednesday, July 18, 2001. Available at
[8] Patricia Ellis, Horses..Foot and Mouth Disease - United Kingdom Devastated, Eques: Horse and Rider Magazine. Available at
[9] BHS & BETA Dissapointment over Michael Meacher's statement on FMD, Press Statement, British Horse Society - British Equestrian Trade Association,April 24, 2001 Available at
[10] Leo Jeffcott, Where Are We Now?, The Horse, August 2001.Available at
[11] Javier M. Ekboir, Appendix C, The Potential Impact of Foot and Mouth Disease in California, 1999 University of California Agricultural Issues Center Report, p. 1. Available at:
[12] 1999 CFR, Title 9--Animals and Animal Products, Chapter I--Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Department of Agriculture, Part 53--Foot-and-Mouth Disease, Pleuopneumonia, Rinderpest, and certain other Communicable Diseases ofLivestock or Poultry. Available at
[13] Javier M. Ekboir, Chapter 6, The Potential Impact of Foot and Mouth Disease in California, 1999 University of California Agricultural Issues Center Report, p. 7. Available at:
[14] American Horse Council, Statistics. Available at
[15] Corrie Brown, Threat of Accidental Foreign Animal Disease Introduction, AVMA Annual Meeting, July 23, 2000.Available at
[16] Foreign Animal and Zoonotic Disease Center, Humanitarian Resource Institute Biodefense Reference Library.Available at
[17] Ann M. Fitzpatrick, Jeff B. Bender. "Survey of chief livestock officials regarding bioterrorism preparedness in the United States." Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, November 1, 2000. Available at
[18] OIE/FAO International Scientific Conference on foot and mouth disease 17-18 April 2001. Available at
[19] Tripartite Exercise 2000, United States Foreign Animal Disease Response Simulation Exercise Final Reports and Summaries, Humanitarian Resource Institute. Available at
[20] Stephen M. Apatow. "Agricultural Security and Emergency Preparedness: Protecting One of America's Critical Infrastructures." HRIBRL Discussion Paper ASEP-2001-12, Humanitarian Resource Institute, December 2001. Available at

Reproduction of this paper is not permitted without the permission of Humanitarian Resource Institute. To order copies of this paper or request permission for reproduction please contact  Stephen M. Apatow, Pathobiologics International, 167 Cherry Street #260, Milford, CT 06460, Phone (203) 668-0282 or email

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