As foot and mouth disease raced across England and into Europe, shock waves spread well ahead and deep scars remained behind. The United Kingdom sagged under the weight of withering tourism, huge agricultural losses, and wholesale disruptions in the movement of people. Prime Minister Tony Blair called out the army and even postponed national elections. Air passengers arriving in Atlanta disinfected their shoes while cattlemen from Kentucky to Kansas wondered whether the plague would strike here too. So far we've lucked out, but foot and mouth nevertheless left its hoofprint on this side of the Atlantic.

I suspect a lot of people were chilled at the thought of so many farm animals mooing and bleating their way to slaughter. How many of us blanched at the picture of a huge pile of dead sheep, rotting in twisted repose in a giant trench in northern England? Here were Mary's little lambs,...

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