Estimates of the likely dates of infection of the early cases of the 2001 foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) epidemic indicate that at least 57 premises in 16 counties in Great Britain were infected before the first case was disclosed. Nationwide animal movement controls were imposed within three days of the first case being confirmed on February 20, when FMD was only known to be in two counties, and these controls limited its geographical spread. After the first few cases were confirmed, new cases were rapidly discovered, and the epidemic curve for the daily number of confirmed cases peaked five weeks later, 11 days later than the peak of the curve based on the estimated dates of infection. In the peak week, both curves showed an average daily number of 43 new cases. The estimated dates of infection are believed to be relatively unbiased for the early cases, for which they were derived from a known contact with infection. However, for the later cases they were estimated mainly from the age of the clinical signs of the disease, and were biased by species and other factors, a bias which would probably have made the estimated dates later than was in fact the case.
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