The terms “exotic animal disease” and “foreign animal disease” are also used in the report and may be confusing to the reader. While the terms are essentially synonymous, each is commonly used and understood separately as part of the vernaculars of different organizations, cultures, and groups. Therefore, we have purposely elected to use both terms in the text of this report; Box 1-3 includes specific definitions of each of them.
Historically, measures taken at the national level to prevent animal diseases began at the country’s borders and focused inward. The federal agency charged with primary responsibility for overseeing disease initiatives for livestock and poultry has been the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA APHIS). The traditional mission of APHIS, “to protect American agriculture,” was carried out by channeling resources into three principal areas: adoption of quarantine measures to protect on-farm commodity production, implementation of emergency actions from the incursion of exotic diseases or related pests, and treatment to control or eliminate diseases and related pests.
The overall credibility of such efforts, with both domestic producers and other countries, hinged on the ability of APHIS, working with state counterparts, animal health professionals, and laboratories, to establish effective diagnostic systems, carry out continual inspection and surveillance, and respond to unforeseen emergencies from disease incursions. Ports of entry, inspection, and surveillance systems were established to prevent the introduction and spread of unwanted livestock and poultry diseases.
In addition to building and maintaining response capabilities, eradication programs were carried out for specific diseases such as foot-and-mouth disease, hog cholera, tuberculosis, brucellosis, and screw worm. Such programs required skilled expertise in specific disciplines such as veterinary medicine and were very labor-intensive. The disease profiles were generally well understood but required many years for complete eradication, which in some cases has still not been accomplished. Pockets of selected diseases, such as brucellosis and tuberculosis, still remain. Disease eradication campaigns required large financial outlays over a number of years, but to reduce exposure and protect growing export markets, campaigns for selected diseases such as foot-and-mouth or pests such as screw worm were funded and jointly carried out in other countries.