Skip Maine state header navigation
Skip First Level Navigation | Skip All Navigation
|Home | Contact Us||
Site Map |
Foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) is a severe, highly communicable viral disease of cattle and swine. It also affects sheep, goats, deer, and other cloven-hooved ruminants. FMD does not spread from animals to humans.
This country has been free of FMD since 1929, when the last of nine U.S. outbreaks was eradicated.
The disease is characterized by fever and blister-like lesions followed by erosions on the tongue and lips, in the mouth, on the teats, and between the hooves. Many affected animals recover, but the disease leaves them debilitated. It causes severe losses in the production of meat and milk.
Because it spreads widely and rapidly and because it has grave economic as well as clinical consequences, FMD is one of the animal diseases that livestock owners dread most.
What Causes It
The disease is caused by a virus. The virus survives in lymph nodes and bone marrow at neutral pH. The virus can persist in contaminated fodder and the environment for up to one month, depending on the temperature and pH conditions.
There are at least seven separate types and many subtypes of the FMD virus. Immunity to one type does not protect an animal against other types.
How It Spreads
FMD viruses can be spread by animals, people, or materials that bring the virus into physical contact with susceptible animals. An outbreak can occur when:
Vesicles (blisters) followed by erosions in the mouth or on the feet and the resulting excessive salivating or lameness are the best known signs of the disease. Often blisters may not be observed because they easily rupture, leading to erosions. Some of these other signs may appear in affected animals during an FMD outbreak:
Confusion With Other Diseases
FMD can be confused with several similar, but less harmful, diseases, such as vesicular stomatitis, bluetongue, bovine viral diarrhea, and foot rot in cattle, vesicular exanthema of swine, and swine vesicular disease. Whenever mouth or feet blisters or other typical signs are observed and reported, laboratory tests must be completed to determine whether the disease causing them is FMD.
Where FMD Occurs
While the disease is widespread around the world, North America, Central America, Australia, New Zealand, Chile, and some countries in Europe are considered free of FMD. Various types of FMD virus have been identified in Africa, South America, Asia, and part of Europe.
Prevention and Control
FMD is one of the most difficult animal infections to control. Because the disease occurs in many parts of the world, there is always a chance of its accidental introduction into the United States.
Animals and animal byproducts from areas known to be infected are prohibited entry into this country.
Livestock animals in this country are highly susceptible to FMD viruses. If an outbreak occurred in the United States, this disease could spread rapidly to all sections of the country by routine livestock movements unless it was detected early and eradicated immediately.
If FMD were to spread unchecked, the economic impact could reach billions of dollars in the first year. Deer and wildlife populations could become infected rapidly and could be a source for reinfection of livestock.
What You Can Do
You can support U.S. efforts against FMD by:
If FMD should appear in your animals, your report will set in motion an effective State and Federal eradication program.
Your participation is vital. Both the early recognition of disease signs and the prompt notification of veterinary officials are essential if eradication is to be carried out successfully. Your warning may prevent FMD from becoming established in the United States, or, if it does spread, reduce the time and money needed to wipe it out.
For Passengers Traveling To the United States From FMD Infected Region of the World
In response to the increasing number of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) outbreaks worldwide, travelers to the United States from infected regions need to take steps to help prevent the accidental introduction of the disease into this country.
FMD is not considered a human health risk but humans can carry the virus on their clothing, shoes, body (particularly the throat and nasal passages) and personal items. The disease is extremely contagious and spreads easily among cloven-hoofed animals such as cattle, sheep, pigs, goats and deer. Introduction of FMD into this country would be disastrous to the American livestock industry and wildlife community. For this reason all visits to farms or other livestock facilities in FMD infected areas and all food items and other materials of plant or animal origin in the traveler’s possession must be reported on the U.S. Customs Declaration Form upon entering the country.
The following preventive measures should be taken by travelers to the United States from FMD infected countries:
1. Avoid farms, sale barns, stockyards, animal laboratories, packing houses, zoos, fairs or others animal facilities for 5 days prior to travel.
2. Before leaving to the United States, launder or dry clean all clothing and outerwear. All dirt and soil should be removed from shoes by thorough cleaning prior to wiping with cloth dampened with a bleach solution (5 teaspoons of household bleach in 1 gallon of water). Luggage and personal items (including watches, cameras, laptops, CD players and cell phones) if soiled should be wiped with a cloth dampened with a bleach solution.
3. Avoid contact with livestock or wildlife for 5 days after arrival in the United States. Extra precautionary measures should be taken by people traveling from farms in infected locales to visit or work on farms in the United States. It is advisable that employers or sponsors provide arriving travelers with a clean set of clothing that can be worn after the visitor showers and shampoos thoroughly. Visitor’s traveling clothes should be laundered or dry-cleaned immediately. Off-farm activities should be scheduled for a visitor’s first 5 days in-country and contact with livestock or wildlife should be strictly avoided
USDA Restrictions on Products from Countries with Foot-and-Mouth Disease
The following is a summary of the restrictions on products from countries affected with FMD:
(1) Prohibited products:
* live ruminants
NOTE: exceptions are allowed under USDA permit, with additional processing for pharmaceutical or biological purposes.
* ruminant or swine semen
(2) Meat and meat products:
* Cured or cooked meat and meat products may be allowed entry under
(3) Milk products:
The following products are specifically exempt from this part and are therefore allowed unrestricted entry from FMD-affected countries: cheese (except cheese with liquid or containing other restricted items such as meat), butter, and butteroil. Also, such things as yogurt, cream liqueurs and chocolate products are not restricted.
* Milk products which are in concentrated liquid form and have been
heat processed in a hermetically sealed container such that they are
shelf stable without refrigeration are allowed entry.
(4) Restricted entry products:
The following products are not allowed unrestricted entry from countries affected with FMD, but they are not completely prohibited either. This means that they can be imported without a permit under certain restrictions, with the primary restriction being consignment upon arrival to an approved establishment for further processing.
* untanned hides and skins
(5) Restricted entry products - import permit required:
Many other processed products derived from ruminant or swine byproducts may be allowed entry under import permit conditions. There is no consolidated list of these products, as new products are continuously being developed. An importer will submit a permit application form, detailing the processing conditions of the product. If it is determined that the process will inactivate the FMD virus, then a permit will be issued and the product will be allowed entry under those conditions.
Download this informational PDF file:
Foot and Mouth Disease: to Protect U.S. Livestock, USDA must remain vigilant and Resolve Outstanding Issues. GAO-02-808, July 26.
Dr. Don Hoenig, State Veterinarinan and Director, Division of Animal Health, 207-287-7615
Current information on animal diseases and suspected outbreaks is also available on the Internet:
|Copyright © 2005 All rights reserved.|