Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD)

Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) is a highly contagious viral disease affecting cattle and other cloven-hoofed ruminants, with significant economic impact. The disease is rarely fatal in adult animals but mortality rates are high in young animals and in susceptible populations morbidity approaches 100%. Those animals that recover are usually weakened and debilitated.

Where is the disease found?

FMD is endemic in several parts of the world including Africa and the Middle East. Even if an area is free of FMD, the disease can occur sporadically.

How is the disease transmitted and spread?

FMD is transmitted through excretions and secretions of infected animals; the virus can be present in milk and semen up to 4 days before clinical signs of the disease are detected. Animals that recover may act as carriers of the disease.

The disease can be spread through the breath of infected animals; contaminated pens and buildings or vehicles; contaminated food or water; infected meat or animal products, either raw or improperly cooked, fed to susceptible animals

What are the clinical signs of the disease?

  • The typical clinical sign is blistering; blisters appear on nose, tongue, lips, in the mouth, between toes, above the hooves, teats and pressure points. Blisters can rupture leading to lameness with the animal reluctant to move or eat; infection of ruptured blisters can also occur.

Other signs include:

  • fever
  • hypersalivation
  • depression
  • loss of appetite
  • loss of weight
  • drop in milk production

Prevention & control of the disease

It is essential for livestock owners and producers to maintain sound biosecurity practices to prevent the introduction / spread of the virus:

  • control over access to livestock by people and equipment
  • control the introduction of new animals to existing stock
  • maintain sanitation of livestock pens, buildings, vehicles and equipment
  • monitor and report illness
  • appropriate disposal of manure and dead carcasses

Source:  World Organisation for Animal Health

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