Officials Brace for Foot-And-Mouth Scare

WASHINGTON - When there were fears of a foot-and-mouth outbreak in the Midwest this summer, the White House received secret briefings that highlighted the potential for old farm diseases to be new national security threats.
calendar icon 24 October 2007
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Scenes like this from the UK outbreak want to be avoided at all costs.

The suspected outbreak in Minnesota of the disease, which does not affect humans, never materialized. Yet federal officials said their concerns showed how the government probably would respond to a foot-and-mouth epidemic. The disease strikes cloven-hoofed animals including cows, sheep, pigs and goats and can have a major economic impact.

"We wanted to keep it quiet to the extent we could so it wouldn't cause any panic or economic impact but make sure the people who would be most concerned like the president or the secretary knew what we were doing," said Roger Rufe, director of operations coordination at the Homeland Security Department.

The incident began June 26 in Austin, Minn., known as "Spamtown, USA" because it is home to Hormel Foods Corp., which makes the canned meat product.

Source: WashingtonPost
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