2. Foot and Mouth

In the second programme, Sue Broom evaluates the scientific and bureaucratic lessons learned in the 2001 Foot and Mouth epidemic and how improved contingency planning and better science might help us prevent such devastating outbreaks in the future.

When, after 32 weeks, Foot and Mouth Disease epidemic was finally eradicated, 6 million animals had been slaughtered and the Government's Audit Office estimated the outbreak had cost the country more than eight billion pounds. During and after the epidemic, questions were raised about the Government's handling of the crisis: why did it take so long to eradicate the disease? Was slaughter the only solution? Was the action cost effective?

Sue talks to veterinarian Peter Jinman and Herefordshire farmer Andrew Havard who lost 184 cattle and 500 sheep in the epidemic. Head of the State Veterinary Service, Martin Atkinson, describes the new Contingency Plans currently being drawn up the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. Research scientists like David Paton and Andrew King at the Institute for Animal Health are working on new vaccines and speedier 'pen-side' diagnostics which will confirm the existence of the virus in hours rather than days. Sue also talks to Sir Brian Follett whose Royal Society report, Infectious Diseases In Livestock, argues that we should make greater use of quantitative modelling to help us predict how an outbreak might develop.

But however well prepared we might be for another outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease, veterinarians warn that other diseases like Bluetongue, Rinderpest and Swine fever could have an equally devastating impact on livestock farm