Spread of foot-and-mouth disease in Finland

Expert opinion of the extent of spread before the detection of the disease  in two different scenarios.

Foot-and-mouth disease (FMD), a disease of predominantly cloven-hoofed animals, can have a devastating impact on national economy. The Finnish legislation classifies FMD as a notifiable, highly contagious disease.

The aim of this work was to elicit an opinion from experts on the probable extent of the so-called silent spread (before decisive diagnosis) in Finland in an intensive pig production area (Ilmajoki) starting on a pig farm and an intensive cattle herding area (Nivala) starting in a cattle herd. The assignment consisted of identification and evaluation of major risk factors of spreading the disease in Finnish animal husbandry settings, and the actual estimation of the probable spread based on the risk factors and compiled background information.

The most important risk factors were transport of and visits by members of certain professions (for example veterinarians) to the farms. Airborne spread was not considered to constitute a significant risk in Finland. The infection was estimated to spread to four to seven cattle herds and one pig farm. Sheep husbandry is a very minor industry in both areas and the infection was not estimated to spread to sheep flocks in either area. The figures are averages of the twelve expert estimates. The variance in the estimates is satisfactorily moderate. The widest margin in estimates was in the number of infected cattle herds in Nivala area which had a range of 2 - 15 herds.

Research group

Lasse Nuotio (EELA)
Sanna Sainmaa (EELA)
Riitta Maijala (EELA)

Project publications


Nuotio, L., Sainmaa, S. & Maijala, R. 2006. Spread of foot-and-mouth disease in Finland. Expert opinion of the extent of spread before the detection of the disease in two different scenarios. EELA Publications 05/2006. (in Finnish with an abstract in English)
Ranta J, Tuominen P, Siekkinen K-M, Mikkelä A.  Bayesian Methods in Food Safety Risk Assessment, Hierarchical Models and Markov Chain Monte Carlo. 2 - 5.6.2011, Greece.