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Illinois Alumni Fight FMD in England

Veterinary Report heard from two Illinois alumni who helped monitor the foot and mouth disease outbreak in England last spring.

Dr. Ron Zaidlicz ('76), a veterinarian with the Animal Care Regional Office in Raleigh, N.C., regularly posted messages to his family and colleagues back home while he served. These have been published with photos as "A Veterinarian's E-Mail Diary from the FMD Outbreak in the UK" in Inside APHIS, available online at (http://www.aphis.usda.gov/lpa/inside_aphis/featureZaidlicz.html).

Dr. Lorna Lanman ('73) went to England in her role as part of the West Coast Veterinary Medical Assistant Team. These teams are part of the U.S. Public Health Service/Office of Emergency Preparedness/National Disaster Medical Systems. Now the administrative officer of the team, Dr. Lanman became involved with VMAT when she moved to Arizona after having practiced for more than 20 years in Illinois.

Her work with VMAT has taken her to North Carolina following Hurricane Floyd, to Los Alamos, N.M., during forest fires, to Anchorage, Ala., for the World Special Olympic Games, and to Los Angeles during the Democratic National Convention as veterinarian to the explosive detection canines. Dr. Lanman also serves as president of the American Academy on Veterinary Disaster Medicine.

Following are excerpts from her account of her time in England.

[Dr. Lorna Lanman ('73) examines a lamb's mouth for lesions.]
Dr. Lorna Lanman ('73)
examines a lamb's mouth for lesions.


I joined the USDA and flew to London on April 25, 2001. My group of six was sent to Newcastle, in beautiful Northumberland, England, an area of many castles, Hadrian's Wall, and stone fences...

When we arrived in Newcastle, we were given about 4 hours of concentrated instruction, a car, all of our equipment, and ordered to report at a newly established office for "clean" vets.

We had three great fears: one of looking for a disease that we had never seen before, one of finding the disease and having to destroy a farmer's animals, and the worst fear of surviving our own driving on the left side of the road. We were given no instruction on the latter, other than "look right, drive left!!"

The next day, we were given our farms to inspect, maps to get us there, and off we went. Our jobs as Temporary Veterinary Inspectors were to travel to farms and inspect the animals for the disease, entering onto a farm only after complete biosecurity measures were followed, in other words, we disinfected ourselves from head to toe.

We wore Tyvek suits, with waterproof rubber suits over the Tyvek, rubber gloves, rubber boots (Wellies) and carried our cell phones, GPS units, all our surgical supplies, our waterproof notebooks and pencils in Ziplock bags. We left our cars on the road and walked the sometimes half-mile and sometimes 2-mile lanes to the farm buildings.

If we were lucky the farmer had a 4-wheeler and a great sheep dog ... if we were lucky! Otherwise, examining the sheep and cattle on the farm might involve walking many miles. We endured many long days, sometimes 15 hours a day, examining the flocks and herds for lesions of FMD.

After about 10 days of this, I made a few connections and transferred to the Disease Control Center...

[Dr. Lanman (left) with the licensing officials in the Disease Control Center.]
Dr. Lanman (left) with the licensing officials in the Disease Control Center.

I asked to learn more about the disposal of the carcasses, since this is a great concern of ours in the U.S., so they allowed me to travel with two Army majors to two of the large burial sites where thousands of carcasses were being buried. I interviewed each of the site managers and took digital pictures of the sites.

When we arrived in England in April, they were just changing their policy from burning or burying the carcasses on the farms to taking them to these large burial sites. I was also allowed to travel to Carlisle, in Cumbria, the area of the worst of the outbreak...

It was not an easy task, watching and/or participating in the killing of 1,000 lambs, 700 ewes, and 400 head of cattle. The licensed slaughtermen culled the cattle, ewes, and older lambs with stun guns followed by pithing to confirm the death of the animals. We euthanized the younger lambs by intracardiac injection of a euthanasia solution. There were three veterinarians, two veterinary students, and four licensed slaughtermen, plus three herdsmen helpers working over 6 hours to destroy all that family's breeding stock and successful lambing crop of 1,700 animals.

This would only be the beginning of eradicating the disease from this farm. They would next have the Clean and Disinfection crew come in two times, then have to wait up to 8 weeks before restocking could be thought about, and then only if the 3 kilometer zone around their farm was considered free of the virus. ...

There were so many stories and so many tragedies, I can only imagine how many families will have been affected, as there are nearly 4 million animals slaughtered, and most farms have 20 to 2,000 animals.

The entire nation suffered not only in lost tourist industry, but in loss of free trade status of exporting farm products, and the sheer cost of eradicating the disease. I heard an estimate that FMD had cost the UK nearly $20 billion since February 23.

Our objectives in going to England were certainly to assist the UK veterinarians in eradicating this virus from their country, but also to gain as much knowledge as possible, both what to do and what not to do, should the USDA and VMAT be called upon to assist our country in responding to such a devastating disaster. My month-long experience allowed me to understand not only how the disease affects the different species of animals, but also how the disease affects the farmers, their families, their towns, and their country.

Hopefully, the unique knowledge all of us veterinarians gained in the UK will never need to be put to use in this country.

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