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.
A very severe outbreak of FMD occurred in the UK during
2001 costing in excess of £3 billion. The FMD 2001 outbreak in
the UK was caused by the Pan Asia strain first isolated in
India in 1990.
In 2007 FMD virus escaped from a vaccine facility at Pirbright,
England causing disease on adjacent farms.
Movement restrictions had a severe economic
impact on the farming industry.
FMD is extremely contagious and most commonly spread by
movement of infected cattle, sheep,
goats, and pigs but indirect spread via farm staff and vehicles was
considered important in many cases during 2001.
Wind-borne spread of the virus over 250 km was believed to be
cause of infection when pigs in Brittany infected cattle on the
Isle of Wight.
The incubation period is 2-10 days. Initially, one or two
cattle present with fever (>40.0°C), depression, loss of
appetite, marked drop in milk yield and salivation. When
housed or closely confined, other cattle in the group show clinical
signs over the next 24-48 hours and such spread is
one or two cattle become isolated and present with fever (over
ly signs of FMD include salivation.
e is marked salivation associated with vesicles in the
mouth with rapid spread of infection to other cattle in direct
Ruptured vesicles (fluid-filled blisters) on the
tongue revealing reddened and painful
ulceration with shreds of mucosa at the
Vesicles (fluid-filled blisters) on the tongue, dental pad and
hard palate quickly rupture leaving shallow ulceration with shreds
of mucosa at the periphery. The underlying tissues are reddened and
Ruptured vesicle on the tongue - several
Vesicles may be present on the teats and at the coronary band.
The latter can become secondarily infected, causing lameness.
Ruptured vesicles on the teat - FMD has been
probably been present for more than 3-5 days.
Ruptured vesicle at the coronary band.
This lesion would have caused severe
There are no ocular or nasal discharges. Cattle
under intensive management conditions with appropriate supervision
would be detected at this stage, and in many countries compulsory
slaughter would ensue. During the acute phase of disease, there is
marked weight loss and milk yield reduction. Foot lesions often
become secondarily infected and animals are very lame and often may
be reluctant to rise.
Where cattle are not slaughtered at an early stage, the ulcers
start to heal by around day 10 after infection but recovery takes
several more weeks, during which time the animal will have
lost a great deal of condition. FMD does not kill cattle; it
is the devastating effects on production and weight loss that is so
important. Trade restrictions also greatly influence
political decisions about control policy.
For disease in groups of cattle your veterinary surgeon will
- Caustic substances
- Mucosal disease
- Malignant catarrhal fever
- Ingestion/contact with caustic substance
fever usually affects only one animal in
the group. There are severe ocular signs and crusting of the
Where disease is suspected, you must inform the Police and
Divisional Veterinary Manager of Animal Health (formerly State
Veterinary Service). Do not leave the premises
and stop all movement of people,
vehicles and animals onto and off the premises.
- Inform the Police and Divisional Veterinary Manager of
- Do not leave the premises
- Stop all movement of people, vehicles and animals onto and off
Overlying mucosal flaps >2 square cm from a ruptured vesicle
are despatched in appropriate transport media to a designated
Severe, advanced lesions on the hard palate of a
Ulcers on the hard palate beginning to
may present as sudden and severe lameness in
ly footrot lesions (this case) causing severe lameness
must be differentiated from FMD.
Sloughing of the hoof
capsule caused by contagious ovine digital dermatitis
In the UK, cattle with suspected FMD have been slaughtered
immediately. In other countries where there is no slaughter
policy, antibiotic therapy may control secondary bacterial
infection of ulcers but recovery takes several weeks to months.
Management Prevention Control measures
Control measures are determined nationally. Slaughter of all
cloven-hooved animals on the farm with full compensation
operated in the UK during the 2001 FMD epidemic. The 3 km
contiguous cull proved very
contentious especially in
Scotland during this outbreak.
Slaughter of ewes and
young lambs in 2001 as part of the contiguous cull. It is
unlikely that such measures would be undertaken
The 2007 outbreak of FMD was traced to poor biosecurity measures
at Pirbright. Slaughter of all cloven-hoofed animals on the
affected farms with full compensation again operated but there was
no contiguous cull. Ring vaccination was considered but
not used, presumably due to the known origin of the source.
Poor disease surveillance in the first instance and
protracted draconian control measures implemented on a national
basis, caused unnecessary hardship to many sectors of the livestock
Bio-security measures which were being operated by
farmers and allied industries during FMD outbreaks were quickly
abandoned after the end of the epidemic.
It is not clear what control policy will operate should another
outbreak of FMD occur in the UK.
Biosecurity measures operated by farmers and allied industries
during FMD outbreaks were quickly abandoned after the end of the
epidemic and there are no disease control precautions on most farms