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Foot and Mouth Disease

Foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) is a severe, highly contagious viral disease of cattle and swine. It also affects sheep, goats, deer, and other cloven-hooved ruminants. FMD is not recognised as a zoonotic disease.

Foot and mouth disease is endemic throughout many parts of the world but much of Europe, North America, Australia and New Zealand are free of disease.

The disease spreads very quickly if not controlled and because of this is a reportable disease

The disease is caused by a virus of which there are seven ‘types’, each producing the same symptoms, and distinguishable only in the laboratory.

Immunity to one type does not protect an animal against other types.

The interval between exposure to infection and the appearance of symptoms varies between twenty-four hours and ten days, or even longer. The average time, under natural conditions, is three to six days.

The virus survives in lymph nodes and bone marrow at neutral pH, but is destroyed in muscle when pH is less than 6.0, i.e., after rigor mortis. The virus can persist in contaminated fodder and the environment for up to one month, depending on the temperature and pH conditions.

Airborne spread of the disease can take place and under favourable weather conditions the disease may be spread considerable distances by this route.

Animals pick up the virus either by direct contact with an infected animal or by contact with foodstuffs or other things which have been contaminated by such an animal, or by eating or coming into contact with some part of an infected carcase.

Outbreaks have been linked with the importation of infected meat and meat products.

The disease can also be spread by people, vehicles and other objects that have been contaminated by the virus.

Symptoms are fever, blisters in the mouth and on feet, weight loss, loss of appetite, quivering lips and frothing of mouth, lameness.

For more information on foot and mouth disease, diagnosis, treatment and prevention click here.

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