Transmission intensity and impact of control policies on the foot and mouth epidemic in Great Britain

Nature. 2001 Oct 4;413(6855):542-8. doi: 10.1038/35097116.


The foot and mouth disease (FMD) epidemic in British livestock remains an ongoing cause for concern, with new cases still arising in previously unaffected areas. Epidemiological analyses have been vital in delivering scientific advice to government on effective control measures. Using disease, culling and census data on all livestock farms in Great Britain, we analysed the risk factors determining the spatiotemporal evolution of the epidemic and of the impact of control policies on FMD incidence. Here we show that the species mix, animal numbers and the number of distinct land parcels in a farm are central to explaining regional variation in transmission intensity. We use the parameter estimates thus obtained in a dynamical model of disease spread to show that extended culling programmes were essential for controlling the epidemic to the extent achieved, but demonstrate that the epidemic could have been substantially reduced in scale had the most efficient control measures been rigorously applied earlier.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Disease Outbreaks / prevention & control
  • Disease Outbreaks / veterinary*
  • Foot-and-Mouth Disease / epidemiology*
  • Foot-and-Mouth Disease / prevention & control
  • Health Policy
  • Incidence
  • Seasons
  • United Kingdom / epidemiology