Foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) is a highly contagious viral disease of cattle, buffalo, pigs, goats and sheep. The occurrence of FMD is associated with serious consequences for the countries affected. Wild cloven-hoofed animals such as deer, antelopes, wild boars, camels, giraffes and elephants can also be infected. Horses are not susceptible to FMD; human infection (in exposed persons) may occur occasionally, but does not usually lead to disease.
The foot-and-mouth disease virus (FMDV) occurs almost worldwide, with the exception of New Zealand, where no outbreaks have been recorded so far. The disease is endemic in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and parts of South America. Sporadic outbreaks can occur in other regions: for example, in Europe, FMD has already occurred twice in the 21st century in Great Britain (2001 to 2002 and 2007).
Cattle, buffalo and pigs are considered the main reservoirs of pathogens.
Mode of transmission
Transmission occurs through direct contact with infected animals, their products (e.g. milk, meat, semen) and excrements or contaminated inanimate objects. Airborne transmission is possible over considerable distances (up to 60 km by land).
2 to 14 days
General symptoms in all affected animal species are small ulcers (aphtae) on the udder, claws and mouth area; fever (40-42 °C), pain, apathy, lameness and decrease in milk yield. The morbidity can reach 100%. The death rate is usually low (up to 5%) in adult animals, but can be 20% or more in young calves, lambs and piglets.
Vaccination is prohibited in the EU. Sick animals must be killed.
Detection, isolation and eradication of infected FMD-positive animals; control of animal movements to prevent spreading of the disease.