Humanitarian Resource Institute: A U.S. & International Resource on the Scope of Humanitarian Assistance

March 30, 2001
Updated: May 22, 2003

Stephen M. Apatow
Director of Research and Development 
Humanitarian Resource Institute Biodefense Reference Library
Foreign Animal and Zoonotic Disease Center
Eastern USA: (203) 668-0282   Western USA: (775) 884-4680

Grass Roots Support Crucial for Preparedness and Response to an Outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease in the United States

If a Foot and Mouth Outbreak were to occur on a farm in your community, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) would implement a longstanding FMD response plan which includes eradicating the disease by depopulating affected and exposed animals.  After confirming an outbreak, the Agency would move quickly to trace infected or exposed animals, establish and maintain FMD quarantines, and destroy infected  or disease-exposed animals.  APHIS is prepared to work with State and local officials to humanely euthanize animals and dispose of carcasses in approved manners.  Additionally, indemnity would be paid to affected producers for the fair market value of their animals.

APHIS has urged States to respond to animal health crises with the same emergency response systems that are in place for other severe emergencies, such as floods and other natural disasters.  For States that have adopted such measures, APHIS' FMD response plan enables the Agency to act as a cooperator in initial disease eradication and control efforts.  Conversely, for other States without integrated animal health emergency response plans, APHISí Regional Emergency Animal Disease Eradication Organizations would operate jointly with State and local officials to coordinate FMD response efforts.  Regardless of the level of a Stateís animal health emergency planning, in the event of an FMD detection APHIS officials will work to ensure that a consistent and appropriate response to the disease is carried out not only in the affected area, but in surrounding regions and the rest of the United States.

To accomplish this goal, APHIS also partners with other Federal agencies, including the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Department of Defense, in regard to animal disease outbreaks.  In the event of a significant animal health situation, all relevant Federal agencies have pledged to follow Federal Response Plan guidelines.  Should an FMD outbreak occur in the United States, other Federal agencies would recognize APHISí expertise in animal health matters and are prepared to give full authority and provide other resources to APHIS as necessary to control and eradicate the outbreak.

Source: Emergency Response: Foot-and-Mouth Disease and Other Foreign Animal Diseases:

If an outbreak is detected, the time required to diagnose FMD and initiate the appropriate measures will be crucial to determining the outbreak's ultimate effect. These measures would include a ban on all movements of susceptible animals that might have been exposed to other animals, contact tracing, prompt and rigid control of the movements of animals and animal products, vehicles, equipment and people in a surveillance area around any outbreak area. Successful eradication of the disease would require the commitment of government, livestock industries, farmer's organizations and the general public. Research has suggested that a one week delay could increase the proportion of infected premises from 18% to more than 90%. (1999 University of California Agricultural Issues Center report on the Potential Impact of Foot-and-Mouth Disease in California: The role and contribution of animal health surveillance and monitoring services)


During the 1999 FEMA Conference for Community & Family Preparedness, Stephen M. Apatow from Humanitarian Resource Institute lead a workshop which addressed building and maintaining cooperation and commitment among partners in community coalitions.  Participants included national, state and local representatives from USDA Extension Service, National Weather Service Warning Coordination Meteorologists, Emergency Management, Red Cross and volunteer agencies.

The scenario presented to the group encompassed an imminent environmental danger which could result in significant loss of life and a need to disseminate preparedness information down to the household level.  The group proceeded to outline proposed steps which included the formation of committees, education initiatives and consensus building which would be required to accomplish the objective.  In short, the perplexed conclusion of this dialogue was that the capacity to engage all participant programs in an immediate unified communication initiative was impossible.

This scenario demonstrated the importance of mass communications coordinated on the federal level.

Having coordinated two national touch outreach campaigns (, we learned:

1. Strategic plans and incidentals relating to a national issue must be established on the federal level.
2. Consensus must then be nurtured and supported on the state, then county levels.
3. One on one contact and relationship building is the only way to solidify an understanding, consensus and support on the grass roots level.

Related Information:


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