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During the 69th General Session of the OIE in May 2001, the consternation caused by the dramatic upsurge in the occurrence of foot and mouth disease (FMD) in Europe particularly, but also in South America, east Asia and southern Africa was the subject of much debate. Questioning the traditional approaches to the control/eradication of the disease and especially the justification for ‘stamping-out’ which had been documented in all its horror by the media in the United Kingdom was the popular topic. This concern was so intense that many drawn into the debate had little knowledge of the nature of FMD or of the behaviour of the disease and there was an understandable search for a readily available and authoritative source of such information. This special edition is primarily an attempt to respond to this need and provide an up-to-date source of information for both animal health specialists and others seeking a compendium of information on the subject.