Early in 2001 some areas of Britain were seriously affected by Foot and Mouth disease (FMD). This is a problem that has a dramatic effect on the farming industry but has no effect on human health. Its effects on holidays in Britain was essentially confined to restricting some activities in rural areas. Apart from a small area close to the border with England, Scotland was spared the outbreak. At no time was Braemar or surrounding areas affected by FMD and few if any restrictions were applied. By January 2002 the whole of Britain was declared free of FMD because there had been no new cases for over 3 months.
I give a brief personal view of Foot and Mouth disease below (written April 2001). For more official information please visit the Scottish Tourist Board site:
What is Foot and Mouth Disease? Foot and Mouth disease is a virulent disease affecting farm livestock. It causes the animals to get blisters in their mouths and feet and to be seriously ill for a period. Normally the animals would recover but their economic value would be greatly reduced.
Why is it so serious? Because the disease spreads so quickly it can rapidly infect huge numbers of animals and thereby have a massive effect on farm incomes. In Britain there is presently a major culling operation being carried out on farm animals. Some of these animals have caught the disease but most are being culled to stop the disease spreading from farm to farm. Although extreme it is believed that such measures are the most effective form of combat.
Why not vaccinate? Purchasers of livestock want to be sure they are not buying diseased animals. Unfortunately there is not good test to distinguish between vaccinated animals and diseased animals. At present therefore there appears to be three policies to foot and mouth disease - keep the herd disease-free by culling, vaccination and no action.
Are humans infected? The answer is probably no. Very few countries, mostly in Western Europe, Northern America and Australia/ New Zealand, operate a disease free policy. Anyone who has travelled extensively outside these areas has probably eaten meat coming from infected animals.
Could I get the brain disease CJD from eating beef? No, this is related to a different disease of cattle called BSE. It can be transmitted to humans from infected cattle but not if the animals are tested and slaughtered in the proper manner. For some years now British animals have been slaughtered under very strictly controlled conditions .
Can I have an enjoyable holiday in Scotland? The answer is definitely YES. Even at the height of the FMD outbreak cities were not affected and the disease was concentrated in areas close to the border with England. Here in Braemar and northern Scotland life was quite normal. Now you can holiday in Scotland without giving any thought to the problems of 2001.
As to eating, Scottish beef has always had a fine reputation and is possibly the safest anywhere in the world. Here in Aberdeenshire (home, of course, to the Aberdeen Angus) and the Highlands of Scotland you can enjoy the hospitality and the freedom that has always been our hallmark.
Personal comments prepared by Michael Franklin, Braemar
Updated 27th January 2002