Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD) is a highly contagious viral disease that affects cloven hoofed animals, such as cattle, hogs, sheep, goats and deer. The disease is not a threat to human health.
FMD is caused by a virus that can be spread by air, direct contact with infected animals or animal products, and indirect contact with clothing, equipment or feed or manure contaminated with the virus. The virus can survive in the environment; cool temperatures, a moist and organic environment allow the virus to survive longer while a dry environment and sunlight inactivate the virus.
There are many strains of FMD. The primary signs of infection are depression, excessive salivation and lameness, vesicles (blisters) and erosions in the mouth, nares, muzzle, feet, or teats. Although few FMD infected animals die and many recover, the disease often leaves animals debilitated with weight loss, permanent hoof damage, or poor growth.
FMD has not occurred in the U.S. since the late 1920s and is a disease of high concern. If an outbreak were to occur today, many farmers' livelihoods would be at risk from economic losses due to decreased milk and meat production. Valuable exports would be lost due to the resulting embargoes on products from the US. If deer or other wildlife were to contract the disease, the outbreak would be much more difficult to eradicate and would be even more widespread.
There is no universal vaccine against FMD as vaccine must closely match the serotype and subtype of the circulating strain in order to protect unexposed animals. Vaccine has been used in the control of outbreaks.
In recent years, FMD has been found in Africa, South America, Asia, and parts of Europe with major outbreaks in South Korea and Japan in the last year. Currently, North America, Central America, Australia, New Zealand and some countries in Europe are considered free of FMD. The United States has eradicated nine outbreaks of FMD, the last of which occurred in 1929.
If you think your animals are displaying the clinical signs of FMD, contact your veterinarian or the Minnesota Board of Animal Health at 651-296-2942.