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Foot-and-Mouth Disease A Potential Disaster For North Carolina

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RALEIGH — Foot-and-mouth disease could be a grave threat to North Carolina's agriculture industry.Farming is the state's top industry, and an outbreak would have a severe impact notjustfarmers but on everyone.

State Animal Response Team and Emergency Management met Friday and have aplan toprotect the industry and the state, but they also admit that they may not be able to do much to counterthe disease should it break out here.

Under the right conditions, the disease of cloven-hoofed animals -- cows,pigs,sheep, goats, and deer -- can be spread on the windover an area of 40-60 miles.

An outbreak would mandate travel restrictions and could stop Interstate trafficin and through the state.

An outbreak could also hinder local travel. Roads would be blocked. Getting to work,to school, or churchwould not be possible in the affected areas. In the United Kingdom, some farm familieshave not left their propertyin weeks.

Basic, everyday things like trips to the grocery store might berestricted, and if one did get to the store, the pricescould be sharply higher: the price of products could skyrocket atan inflation of 1200 percent.

Borders would be controlled, research halted, exports frozen, and any areas suffering from an outbreak would have sharply restricted access.

Additionally, since 13.3 percent of the national gross domestic product is agricultural,and 24 million Americans are employed in the agricultural sector, the economy wouldfeel a devastating ripple effect. East Coast trucking would have to be routed around the affected areas.

Tourism is also a very big industry in North Carolina. If foot-and-mouthbroke out in eastern North Carolina, the coastal tourist industry would suffer acrippling blow.

In 24 hours, the state would feel a $3 billion impact. In 48hours, it wouldbe $12 billion.