What is foot and mouth disease (FMD)?
Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) is a highly contagious viral disease that affects cloven-hoofed animals, including cattle, sheep, goats, and pigs. It is caused by a virus belonging to the Picornaviridae family, specifically the Aphthovirus genus.
FMD primarily spreads through direct contact between infected animals, as well as through contaminated objects (fomites) such as clothing, vehicles, and equipment. The virus can also be transmitted through the air over short distances.
Symptoms of FMD in animals include:
- Blisters or ulcers in the mouth, on the tongue, gums, and sometimes on the udder or teats in cows
- Blisters or ulcers on the feet, especially between the hooves
- Lameness and reluctance to move
- Reduced appetite and weight loss
- Excessive salivation
- Drooling and foaming at the mouth
- Decreased milk production in dairy cows
- Abortions in pregnant animals
FMD does not usually result in high mortality in adult animals, but it can have severe economic impacts due to loss of production, trade restrictions, and the cost of disease control measures.
FMD is a significant concern for the livestock industry and agriculture authorities around the world. Outbreaks can lead to large-scale culling of affected animals to prevent further spread of the disease.
It's important to note that FMD is not a threat to human health, and it is not related to Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease (HFMD), which affects humans and is caused by a different group of viruses.
Due to the economic impact and potential for rapid spread, many countries have strict control measures in place to monitor and prevent outbreaks of FMD. This may include vaccination programs, movement restrictions, and quarantine measures in affected areas.