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The foot and mouth disease (FMD) epidemic in British livestock remains an ongoing cause for concern, with new cases still arising in previously unaffected areas. Epidemiological analyses have been vital in delivering scientific advice to government on effective control measures. Using disease, culling and census data on all livestock farms in Great Britain, we analysed the risk factors determining the spatiotemporal evolution of the epidemic and of the impact of control policies on FMD incidence. Here we show that the species mix, animal numbers and the number of distinct land parcels in a farm are central to explaining regional variation in transmission intensity. We use the parameter estimates thus obtained in a dynamical model of disease spread to show that extended culling programmes were essential for controlling the epidemic to the extent achieved, but demonstrate that the epidemic could have been substantially reduced in scale had the most efficient control measures been rigorously applied earlier.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





542 - 548


Department of Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Faculty of Medicine, Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine, St Mary's Campus, London, UK.


Animals, Foot-and-Mouth Disease, Incidence, Seasons, Disease Outbreaks, Health Policy, United Kingdom