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 Words in the News
 Following an outbreak in the UK of foot and mouth disease, concern is growing that hundreds of thousands of farm animals will have to be slaughtered across Europe.
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A cow

1st March 2001

The spread of foot and mouth disease

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Foot and mouth disease is highly contagious. The virus can be spread in a number of ways and can even be carried by the wind over 500 kilometres. While it can often be lethal to young pigs, sheep and cows, it rarely kills adult animals but it does leave them with long term chronic problems - dairy cows in particular have greatly reduced milk yields.

Vaccines are available but are costly and only offer relatively short-term protection so the animals need regular booster vaccinations.This is the reason why British animals are not vaccinated.

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foot and mouth: a very serious disease that affects cattle, goats, sheep and pigs.

contagious: a contagious disease can be caught by contact with people or things that are infected with it

virus: a kind of germ that can cause disease

lethal: something lethal can kill people or animals

chronic: very severe and lasting a long time

milk yields: the quantities of milk produced

vaccines: substances given to people or animals to prevent them getting a disease

short-term protection: protection that lasts for a little while only

booster: an extra injection that renews the effectiveness of a previous vaccine injection

NEWS 2  AudioListen to the second part of the report

Modern intensive farming - where large herds are kept in close proximity and travel extensively - also adds to the likelihood of rapid spread of the disease. Foot and mouth is found on every continent and periodic outbreaks occur in most countries. However, full scale epidemics are less common in countries where it is endemic.

The local animals often have some natural immunity to the disease and farming tends to be much less intensive. While foot and mouth does have an impact on farmers in these regions, it is countries like Britain that have no trace of the disease which is more likely to suffer a major epidemic.

  AudioListen to the words

close proximity: near to

likelihood: the chance that something will happen

periodic: happening occasionally

epidemics: occurrences of diseases which spread quickly and affect a large number of people or animals

endemic: naturally or commonly occurring

immunity: protection

to have no trace: to have no sign of, to be free of

  Read about the background in BBC News Online

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