Between March and July 1997, a devastating outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD), serotype O, occurred in pigs in Taiwan. A total of 6147 pig farms with more than 4 million pigs were infected, and 37.7 per cent of the pigs in Taiwan either died (0.18 million pigs) or were killed (3.85 million pigs). The epidemic reached its peak during the fifth week after it was first recognised. During the eighth and ninth weeks, a two-dose blanket vaccination programme was instituted which led to a large reduction in new outbreaks. Except for two cities, the whole ofTaiwan was declared an FMD-infected zone. During the four months in which new farm outbreaks occurred, 21.7 per cent of the pigs on infected farms showed clinical signs, and there was an overall mortality of 3.95 per cent. During the early stages ofthe epidemic, the incubation period was as short as 24 hours and the case fatality rates for suckling piglets reached 100 per cent. The financial cost ofthe epidemic was estimated at US$ 378.6 million, including indemnities, vaccines, carcase disposal plus environmental protection, miscellaneous expenses, and loss of market value. Owing to the ban on exports of pork to Japan, it is estimated that the total economic cost to Taiwan's pig industry will be about US$ 1.6 billion.
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