Foot and mouth concerns in Oklahoma

Monday, March 26th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Though there have been no confirmed cases of foot-and-mouth or mad cow disease anywhere in the U.S., the Oklahoma Agriculture Department has still issued alerts to state cattle ranchers. KOTV's Glenda Silvey attended a livestock auction in Tulsa Monday and talked with some of the cattlemen whose products end up in stores like Perry's Food Store in Tulsa.

They say they know what to look for, they're watching their herds closely, and they're not worried yet. State agriculture officials advise ranchers and veterinarians to keep a close eye on cattle at concentration points like this livestock auction. Tulsa Stockyard veterinarian, Dr Dan Cason says, "There's a heightened alert all over the United States. Everyone has their eyes open." Dr. Cason says lameness and drooling are the first signs of foot and mouth virus, usually spread by people moving from herd to herd. While there haven't been any confirmed cases in the U.S., Cason doesn't think warnings are exaggerated. "No, we have to be aware. This is such a contagious viral disease, everybody needs to know about foot-and-mouth."

Area ranchers bring their cattle to Tulsa Stockyards for auction regularly. They say they keep their animals healthy and pay attention to reports on foot-and-mouth, but aren't worried yet. Local rancher, Andy Guilfoyle says, "It's far enough from home, I'm really not concerned today." Cason says "biosecurities" are the best defense against foot-and-mouth, that means no visiting among herds, washing shoes and clothes after visiting herds. He says some cattlemen are fearful about the future of the business. "I've heard some of them say, "well, should I just bring them all into the stockyard and sell them with this disease?'"

Cason advises them not to worry. He says ranchers, veterinarians and government inspectors form a strong safety barrier to keep the country's beef supply the safest in the world.

Joe Don Eaves, owner of Tulsa Stockyards, agrees with Dr. Cason that the government is taking extra precautions in light of disease outbreaks, and the public here has no cause for alarm. He added that short beef supplies in other countries might actually end up helping area cattlemen.