Running wild

Concern that foot and mouth disease could persist among wild deer

source: Debora MacKenzie
New Scientist May 5 2001 p5

There is concern that foot and mouth (FMD) disease could spread to wild deer in Britain, where it could persist. The government has no plans for systematic tests. The disease did not persist among deer following a major outbreak in 1967. The number of deer in Britain has increased tenfold since then, however, to some two million. There are also wild boar in Britain, following an accidental reintroduction during the 1980s.

There are five species of deer in Britain, all of which are susceptible to FMD. It is unclear whether deer would pass on the disease, and more information is needed. There is particular concern about deer in areas heavily affected by FMD. Sika, fallow and red deer are seen as especially at risk, since their symptoms are mild, they live in herds, and they may carry the FMD virus during a four-month period.