Foot and mouth disease: preparedness

An outline of the Scottish Government's preparedness for an outbreak of foot and mouth disease.

An outbreak of foot and mouth disease (FMD) can have a serious impact on international trade, individual producers and on animal welfare. Identifying and eradicating the disease as quickly as possible is key to minimising the cost of an outbreak.

To ensure that the Scottish Government is ready to deal with FMD effectively and efficiently it learns lessons from previous outbreaks and tests its preparedness through regular exercises.

The most recent occurrence of FMD in Great Britain was in 2007, and although there were no cases in Scotland, there was a review of Scotland’s response.

Professor Jim Scudamore was commissioned to lead a review into the Scottish handling of the implications of the 2007 foot and mouth disease outbreaks, the lessons to be learned and the steps that can taken to minimise the associated disruption of a possible future outbreak.

The Foot and Mouth Disease Review (Scotland) 2007 is available on the archive.

The Scottish Government is committed to taking forward the review's recommendations as part of its ongoing support to a sustainable livestock sector. The Progress Report: Scottish Government's Response to the Foot and Mouth Disease Review (Scotland) 2007, available on the archive, was published in 2011, and details the progress the Scottish Government has made in meeting these recommendations.

One of the recommendations led to the development of a suite of veterinary risk assessments (VRAs), in particular for those activities which should be issued without delay to allow essential farming activities such as milking cows. 

The Scottish Government’s preparedness was tested in 2018 through Exercise Blackthorn which simulated a medium to large scale FMD outbreak that had spread from England to Wales and Scotland. 

The purpose of the exercise was to review and check contingency plans and policies across Government for the control and eradication of an outbreak of FMD. The aim was to establish the  state of readiness for such an outbreak and identify improvements in the response to a notifiable animal disease.

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