"We are certainly treating it like it's a probable likelihood," said Bruce Baughman of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Officials from FEMA and about 75 other agencies ranging from the Agriculture Department to the CIA met last Wednesday to review plans for addressing an outbreak of the highly infectious animal virus.
Baughman said the plans called for treating an outbreak much the same as a natural disaster, in which states take primary responsibility and call on federal resources as needed.
Others present at the meeting said the chances that the disease will spread to the United States were described as very high, fueling an intensive planning effort, the newspaper said. Until now, the government has focused in its public statements on efforts to keep the disease from reaching the United States.
Officials at the meeting described arrangements for earth-moving equipment to bury thousands of animal carcasses, and the drafting of emergency orders that could suspend some environmental regulations to allow quick burial of afflicted livestock.
Foot-and-mouth disease affects pigs, cattle and other cloven-hoofed animals but is not generally harmful to humans. The United States has not had a case of foot-and-mouth disease since 1929. In England, the outbreak began in February and quickly spread.
Cases also have been confirmed in the Netherlands, France and Ireland. Recent outbreaks have occurred in Saudi Arabia, Argentina, South Korea and Taiwan.
Copyright 2001 by United Press International. All rights reserved.
© 2021 Newsmax. All rights reserved.