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USDA, NJDA Review Foot-and-Mouth Disease
Facts and Procedures
For Immediate Release: April 6, 2001 Contact:

Hope Gruzlovic

New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Art Brown, Jr., today hosted a press conference at Newark International Airport to detail state and federal efforts to prevent the spread of foot-and-mouth disease into the tri-state area.

Joining him for the event were Ernest Zirkle, DVM, State Veterinarian and Director of NJDA's Division of Animal Health; Mary Negron, Plant Health Director for New Jersey, USDA, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Plant Protection and Quarantine; Roxanne Mullaney, DVM, Area Veterinarian in Charge for New Jersey, USDA, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Veterinary Services; Victor Jacobsen, canine handler, USDA, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Plant Protection and Quarantine; and Mantis, member of USDA's Beagle Brigade.

Brown noted that there were several critically important things the public should understand about foot-and-mouth disease:

  • The disease poses no human health threat. Humans cannot contract the disease and if, by chance, someone were to eat meat from an infected animal, it would pose no danger.

    There is no relationship between "mad cow disease" (bovine spongiform encephalopathy) and foot-and-mouth disease. They are totally distinct and separate diseases with completely different causes. The last case of foot-and-mouth in the United States was diagnosed in 1929 and there has never been a documented case of mad cow disease in this country.

  • The primary danger posed by foot-and-mouth is to the bottom line of livestock and dairy producers in New Jersey and around the nation. Meat and dairy production from animals that recover from the virus is always significantly reduced and the animals can spread the disease for the rest of their lives. The only real "cure" for the disease is to destroy
    the animals.

Brown also discussed the formation last week of the Foot-and-Mouth Emergency Task Force in New Jersey. "It mirrors efforts under way in both Pennsylvania and New York," he said. "Since foot-and-mouth could have such devastating economic impacts on agriculture and tourism here in the Garden State, it's important that we get a plan in place that will enable us to act within a matter of hours to contain the disease, should a case be diagnosed in New Jersey or in a neighboring state." Task force members include USDA representatives, a number of state agencies and private sector organizations with an agricultural base. Mullaney discussed how the current outbreak of the disease in the United Kingdom and the European Union is believed to have started and the symptoms New Jersey veterinarians and farmers have been alerted to watch for in cloven-hooved animals. Negron discussed the precautions that USDA has in place at entry points for travelers from foot-and-mouth infected countries and demonstrated some of the safety checks travelers may routinely experience, including a quick once over by one of USDA's Beagle Brigade, dogs trained to sniff out prohibited meat products and other contraband items. The total value of the Garden State's 48,000 cattle and calves, including 16,000 dairy animals, was just over $44.6 million as of January 1,2000. Cash receipts generated by cattle sales was more than $7.8 million while dairy products brought in an additional $42.1 million. At the end of 1999, the state's 15,000 hogs and pigs were worth nearly $1.3 million and generated cash receipts of $639,000. The state's 12,000 sheep and lambs generated cash receipts of almost $1.3 million and were worth about $1.2 million.