Is Hiding Foot and Mouth Disease Sensitive Behavior for Farmers? A Survey Study in Sri Lanka

  • Gunarathne, Anoma (Laboratory of Hygiene Economics, Obihiro University of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine) ;
  • Kubota, Satoko (Laboratory of Hygiene Economics, Obihiro University of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine) ;
  • Kumarawadu, Pradeep (Animal Health Division, Department of Animal Production and Health) ;
  • Karunagoda, Kamal (Socio-Economic and Planning Center, Department of Agriculture) ;
  • Kono, Hiroichi (Laboratory of Hygiene Economics, Obihiro University of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine)
  • Received : 2015.03.19
  • Accepted : 2015.06.05
  • Published : 2016.02.01


Foot and mouth disease (FMD) has a long history in Sri Lanka and was found to be endemic in various parts of the country and constitutes a constant threat to farmers. In Sri Lanka, currently there is no regular, nationwide vaccination programme devised to control FMD. Therefore, improving farmers' knowledge regarding distinguishing FMD from other diseases and ensuring prompt reporting of any suspicion of FMD as well as restricting movement of animals are critical activities for an effective FMD response effort. Therefore, the main purpose of this study was to clarify the relationship between farmers' knowledge levels and their behaviors to establish a strategy to control FMD. In our study, item count technique was applied to estimate the number of farmers that under-report and sell FMD-infected animals, although to do so is prohibited by law. The following findings were observed: about 63% of farmers have very poor knowledge of routes of FMD transmission; 'under-reporting' was found to be a sensitive behavior and nearly 23% of the farmers were reluctant to report FMD-infected animals; and 'selling FMD-infected animals' is a sensitive behavior among high-level knowledge group while it is a non-sensitive behavior among the low-level knowledge group. If farmers would understand the importance of prompt reporting, they may report any suspected cases of FMD to veterinary officials. However, even if farmers report honestly, they do not want to cull FMD-infected animals. Thus, education programs should be conducted not only on FMD introduction and transmission, but also its impact. Furthermore, consumers may criticize the farmers for culling their infected animals. Hence, not only farmers, but also consumers need to be educated on the economic impact of FMD and the importance of controlling an outbreak. If farmers have a high knowledge of FMD transmission, they consider selling FMD-infected animals as a sensitive behavior. Therefore, severe punishment should be levied for selling FMD-infected animals.


Supported by : Obihiro University of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine


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