The virus is transmitted mainly via aerosol spread (over several kilometres when spread by wind), but also via contaminated material, feedstuff, contact between animals or animals and humans. The incubation period lasts 2 to 7 days. The disease affects the entire herd in the majority of cases.
General symptoms shown by all animal species affected are aphtae (small ulcers or blisters) on the udders (teats, resist milking equipment), the hooves (interdigital clefts, coronary bands, blisters down to the tarsal joint in pigs, lethargy, lameness, slow in standing) and the mouth area (inside the lips, tongues, gums, animals drool and salivate and have less appetite); fever (40.42 °C), pain, apathy.
Further symptoms in cattle: decline in milk production, high mortality rate in calves (up to 75 %)
Further symptoms in pigs: significant changes in the claw/extremity area, possible loss of hoof, fatalities in piglets without clinical symptoms possible
Further symptoms in sheep: very innocuous, lameness is often the sole clinical symptom.
The EU follows a strict no vaccine policy and the culling of infected animals. The fight against FMD focuses on the identification, isolation and elimination of FMD positive animals and on the surveillance of animal transportation to prevent the virus from spreading. Serologic tests are used to monitor the FMD-free status of Austria.
Foot-and-mouth disease must be reported to the authorities.