to the Threat of Foreign Animal Disease
Every day thousands of people
and animals or animal products enter Illinois through O'Hare International
Airport. With the potential for a foreign animal disease outbreak beginning
in our state, the College has moved to increase biosecurity here, has
worked with the Illinois Department of Agriculture and supporting agencies
to coordinate an emergency action plan, and has put the focus on educating
the public about disease transmission.
At the Veterinary Teaching
Hospital, signs on exterior doors advise clients to report recent overseas
travel to the admissions staff. Everyonefrom maintenance workers
performing their duties to prospective students touring the facilitiesis
screened. Anyone who has traveled in prohibited countries in the previous
14 days cannot enter the hospitalnor can their cloven-hoofed animals
Dr. Larry Firkins (at
right), director of the College research stations, discusses a
research protocol for a cattle study with workers Joe Lieb and
(Prohibited are all countries
not identified as free of foot and mouth disease by the Office International
Des Epizooties on its Web site: www.oie.int/eng/info/en_fmd.htm.)
Restrictions were also enforced
at the College's annual Open House on April 7, and special seminars
and literature were offered to educate the public on foot and mouth
disease, mad cow, and other public and animal health issues recently
in the news.
Because Illinois is vulnerable
to an outbreak of an emergency animal disease (EAD), with the possibility
of thousands or even millions of livestock in the state affected, the
Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDOA) and supporting agencies, including
the University, have coordinated an emergency action plan. The University's
responsibilities within the plan are to make available Extension personnel,
especially livestock specialists; faculty and staff; and students, on
a volunteer basis, to assist in controlling and eradicating an EAD.
Dr. Larry Firkins has been
working with the state for the past three years in developing the Illinois
Emergency Animal Disease Response Plan. Dr. Firkins is an assistant
professor of veterinary pathobiology, director of the College research
stations, and swine Extension veterinarian.
"The key to the entire
plan is the ability or willingness of the owner to quickly report symptoms
to their local veterinarian," Dr. Firkins says.
If a veterinarian suspects
an animal has an EAD, the veterinarian will immediately report the case
to Dr. Richard Hull, state veterinarian with the IDOA. Dr. Hull will
have samples from the animals in question sent to the Plum Island Animal
Disease Center operated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture off the
coast of New York.
The home farm of the animal
would be quarantined until a diagnosis is confirmed, and a confirmed
diagnosis would put the emergency response plan into full effect. Infected
animals would be appraised, euthanized, and destroyed, and the entire
area would be disinfected. People would not be able to leave the area
within a 3-mile radius while the quarantine is in place.
Two mock disasters have
been staged by the IDOA to allow agency representatives to strengthen
will play a key role in identifying and handling an outbreak by being
alert to out-of-the-ordinary symptoms. Symptoms of foot and mouth disease,
for example, include lameness, drooling as the result of blisters in
the mouth, and general indicators of sickness, such as fever.
Veterinarians are also key
in educating their clients about foreign animal disease transmission.