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Animal Health and Welfare: FMD Data Archive

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During the course of the Foot and Mouth Outbreak 2001 MAFF and then its successor Department Defra created large volumes of data on every conceivable element of the outbreak. Mindful of the fact from very early on in April 2001 that the outbreak was going to be of enormous consequence to the UK, the staff of the Joint Co-ordination Centre in London took the decision to make sure that all possible data sources were captured and protected as the outbreak progressed. The quality of the data from the early stages of the outbreak was less than perfect and although much time and effort has been expended in checking and verifying data and going back to original sources we would not claim by any means that the data set had been brought to a perfect state. But, that fact does not deny its value as the most completely documented major outbreak of animal disease to date.

For the first time ever for a major epidemic we have most of the salient data available in electronic form. This dataset is available to any bona-fide researcher world-wide who is prepared to observe modest confidentiality conditions.

Some elements of the data have no data protection implications and these are presented for public consumption. The elements show in graphical form how the epidemic progressed and regressed and how the numbers of animals destroyed accumulated on a county by county basis.

In the deeper archive, for the academic researcher, all the data elements that we collected are accessible and we provide a managed service to make access to large data sets by means of FTP or CD ROM possible.

In making this data available we meet the stated wish of both the Royal Society Report and the Lessons Learned Inquiry. Both asked that the data be made available so that scientists and others charged with managing animal disease could use the information to advantage in understanding major epidemics and all the elements that form part of disease control.

The Report from the Royal Society shows clearly the major impact that the FMD 2001 epidemic had on the UK:

"That outbreak was the worst experienced by Britain since proper records began and involved 2030 cases spread across the country. Some 6 million animals were culled (4.9 million sheep, 0.7 million cattle and 0.4 million pigs), which resulted in losses of some £3.1 billion to agriculture and the food chain. Some £2.5 billion was paid by the Government in compensation for slaughtered animals and payments for disposal and clean up costs. About 4 million of the animals were culled as part of disease control (1.3 million on infected premises, 1.5 million on farms defined as dangerous contacts not contiguous with the infected premises, and 1.2 million on contiguous premises, many of which were also defined as dangerous contacts). The others died under various types of 'welfare cull'. At one stage, it was suggested that in addition to the six million animals mentioned above there could have been up to 4 million further young animals killed 'at foot' (i.e. slaughtered but not counted). Defra believe that these estimates of additional 'at foot' animals are, however, likely to be high, because at least some of these young animals were included in their original figures. The foot-and-mouth outbreak had serious consequences upon tourism-in both city and country-and other rural industries." (The Royal Society - Infectious Diseases in Livestock, 2002.)

  Page last modified: 19 March 2004
Page published: 19 March 2004
FMD data archive hosted by Defra's Food and Environment Research Agency.
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