Local News

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

Posted April 29, 2001 2:50 a.m. EDT

— 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 not just farmers but on everyone.

State Animal Response Team and Emergency Management met Friday and have a plan to protect the industry and the state, but they also admit that they may not be able to do much to counter the 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 wind over an area of 40-60 miles.

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

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

Basic, everyday things like trips to the grocery store might be restricted, and if one did get to the store, the prices could be sharply higher: the price of products could skyrocket at an 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 would feel 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-mouth broke out in eastern North Carolina, the coastal tourist industry would suffer a crippling blow.

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

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