Foot and mouth disease in Scotland: improving preparedness and outbreak responses

Impact: Environmental

Description of impact

Underpinning Research:

We have developed veterinary risk assessments (VRAs) on recreational access to the countryside and on animal movements during outbreaks of foot and mouth disease (FMD), highlighting the risks associated with movements of people and animals during an outbreak. We also conducted epidemiological and economic modelling of FMD vaccination to optimise the efficiency of potential control strategies.

Significance and Reach of Impact:

The Land Reform (Scotland) Act (December 2013) was amended based on our research to better regulate recreational access to the countryside during future outbreaks of exotic disease. The VRAs have significantly improved Scottish Government and UK contingency plans for management of future FMD outbreaks, including a new suite of licences for animal movements. Our research outputs have been used as models for disease preparedness in the UK and in all 27 EU countries as well as Australia. These ensure the continuity of low-risk countryside activities; this is important for economic resilience and continued high standards of animal welfare during an outbreak, and so help to future-proof farming communities against further FMD outbreaks.

Preparedness for future outbreaks is predicted to lead to substantial reductions in economic losses if the countryside can remain open for low-risk activities (in 2001, the estimated cost of countryside closure due to the FMD outbreak for the UK was GBP3,000,000,000). Based on our research, optimised vaccination strategies are estimated to save up to GBP490,000,000 in Scotland, more than halving the impact of severe FMD outbreaks for the future economy (which are estimated at GBP950,000,000 when optimal vaccine stocks are used).

A joint submission with the University of Edinburgh to REF2021.
Impact date20112019
Category of impactEnvironmental