State working with feds to keep foot-and-mouth out of Colorado

DENVER (AP) Colorado agriculture officials are meeting with federal officials this week to prevent an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in Europe from reaching the state.

''If we can get a plan in effect before there is an outbreak, we can minimize the effect of a disaster,'' said Dr. Wayne Cunningham, state veterinarian and director of the animal industry division.

''We spent a good part of the day trying to make sure Colorado has the right kind of prevention as well as response in place,'' he said, ''but I don't know if we will ever be prepared sufficiently.''

Cunningham met Wednesday with officials of the federal Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service to discuss Colorado's existing prevention plan and to detail the state's response to any outbreak.

The disease doesn't affect humans but is devastating to cattle, sheep and hogs, can be carried on clothes for nearly two months, Campbell said. Infections spread rapidly.

''I think the fact we have so many visitors from abroad puts us at a higher risk of an outbreak,'' he said. ''It only takes one mistake.''

If an outbreak occurs, the state would call for a quarantine of the infected animals as well as a buffer zone of 15 miles. Animals in the buffer zone would be vaccinated.

Colorado is the fourth-largest producer of beef cattle in the nation, the largest producer of lamb and the 12th-largest producer of pork, he said.

''If there was an outbreak, all international trade would be halted.... It would be disastrous.''

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