What you need to know about foot and mouth disease in livestock

Foot and mouth disease is an extremely contagious virus that spreads quickly between animals. Proper preventative measures are required to stop outbreaks of this harmful disease. Do you own a farm? Find robust equipment for sale on AgriMag and boost the productivity of your business.

Foot and Mouth Disease - Cattle
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What is foot and mouth disease?

Foot and mouth disease is a virus that affects animals that have divided hoofs. It’s extremely contagious and is considered one of the most harmful livestock diseases. The virus can be separated into seven serotypes, which are divided further into over 60 strains. The animals that are impacted by foot and mouth disease include the following:
● Cattle
● Buffalo
● Camel
● Sheep
● Goat
● Deer
● Pig

How is the disease spread?

Foot and mouth disease can be spread by air across long distances. It’s also spread through direct contact with an infected animal or through contact with the carcass of an animal who died from the disease. The virus can survive in food and the environment for periods of up to 30 days. Meat and other animal products can also spread the disease. The virus can be passed on by infected people and objects.

What are the symptoms?

Each serotype of the disease results in the same symptoms, which means that the different strains can only be identified in a lab. Once an animal has been exposed to the virus, the symptoms typically take between 1 and 10 days to appear. However, in some cases, it takes longer for the animal to show signs of the disease. Symptoms include fever, lameness, and reduced milk production. A loss of appetite and weight loss are other indications of foot and mouth disease. Infected animals suffer from mouth, feet, and teat blisters as well as frothing at the mouth.

Foot and Mouth Disease - Sores
Image Credit – Izvora on commons.wikimedia.org


Vaccination against one serotype will not safeguard your livestock against strains from another serotype and it does not necessarily protect your animals from all the strains in the same serotype. Vaccinations that target the stereotype and strain that is prevalent in the area are used in regions where there is a high risk of foot and mouth disease.


Foot and mouth disease is highly contagious and it spreads easily, which makes it difficult to prevent. There’s no single vaccination that protects animals against this disease, which makes it challenging to control. The situation is further complicated by the widespread occurrence of the disease in regions across the globe. Proper planning is required to protect livestock from this disease. Prevention strategies are essential, and farmers need to be properly prepared to stop the disease from spreading if an outbreak occurs. Adequate preparation helps to contain and control the disease so that the lives of other animals are spared.

The spreading of the disease is prevented by imposing restrictions on countries where there are outbreaks. Other measures to control the disease include quarantines and restriction of movement. Infected animals are typically killed by euthanasia to prevent the disease from spreading. Environments, objects, people, and vehicles that have come into contact with infected animals have to be disinfected. It’s vital that the carcass of an infected animal is disposed of correctly. Rodents may also be killed since they can spread the disease.

Foot and Mouth Disease - Vaccination
Image Credit – Izvora on commons.wikimedia.org

The impact of foot and mouth disease across the world

There have been outbreaks of foot and mouth disease across the globe, including the United Kingdom, Japan, and the Republic of Korea. Countries in Africa and South America have also experienced outbreaks. This disease causes animals great suffering and has resulted in huge financial losses in the agricultural industry. Outbreaks of the disease limit the trade of livestock and related products. Countries that have had no instances of foot and mouth diseasea have strict limitations on importing animal products from areas where outbreaks have occurred.

Foot and mouth disease in South Africa

In South Africa, there was an outbreak of foot and mouth disease at the start of 2019 in Vhembe, Limpopo. As a result, exports of South African meat and dairy were banned by numerous countries. The World Health Organisation revoked South Africa’s FMD-free status for a limited period. In response, the department of agriculture arranged for the continued exports of safe products and quarantines were implemented in infected areas of the country. FMD-free status was reinstated to four areas. Thousands of animals were vaccinated and roadblocks were set up to ensure no meat or animal products were transported out of the infected areas.

Foot and Mouth Disease
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The serious nature of foot and mouth disease makes it important for farmers to educate themselves about this virus. Looking for agricultural equipment? Find machines for sale on AgriMag.

What you need to know about foot & mouth disease in livestock | AgriMag
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What you need to know about foot & mouth disease in livestock | AgriMag
Foot and mouth disease is an extremely contagious virus that spreads quickly between animals. Proper preventative measures are required to stop outbreaks.
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