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Animal Disease Outbreak

The discovery of 'mad cow disease' in the UK in 1986 led to the culling of around 4.4 million cattle. Fifteen years later, the country experienced the worst outbreak of foot and mouth disease in recorded history.

The impacts were felt not just by rural communities in Scotland, but also by the wider economy with businesses and tourism hit.

Contexts for learning

Investigating animal disease outbreaks and their potential impact on people and the wider economy provides a context for learning and teaching about aspects of risk, safety, preparation, community involvement and personal responsibility.

There are strong curriculum links to science, geography, modern studies and business studies.

Considering how to prepare for and respond to an outbreak of animal disease can also allow learners to develop skills of communication, collaboration and problem solving.

PDF file: Curriculum links - Animal disease outbreak (367 KB)

Opportunities for partnership working

Potential candidates for partnership working include the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), local vets, veterinary colleges and local farmers.


Animal disease outbreak - Learning journey

This learning journey explores the current theory surrounding the transference of 'mad cow disease' (BSE) into the human population as vCJD (variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease). It is accompanied by a learner challenge and fact sheet.

Useful links

You might find the following links useful when studying animal disease outbreak in the context of emergency planning and resilience education.

Scottish Government - Animal diseases: Information and guidance on specific diseases along with the latest information on any disease outbreaks in Scotland.
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs - Animal diseases: Find out about a range of animal diseases including 'notifiable' diseases such as Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) and foot and mouth disease (FMD).
BBC - News - Foot and Mouth Disease: Browse a selection of articles and video reports from the BBC about the 2001 outbreak of foot and mouth disease.
NHS - Choices - Foot and Mouth Disease: It is possible but extremely rare for people to catch foot and mouth disease, even those who work closely with infected animals.
NHS - Choices - Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease: Information on Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJC) including new variant CJD, caused by eating meat from a cow infected with BSE.