Exploring Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD)

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Foot and Mouth Disease

Synonym : Aphthous fever,Aftosa,Enzootic apthiae


Foot and mouth disease (FMD) is a highly contagious viral disease that primarily affects cloven-hooved livestock and wildlife. Although adult animals generally recover, the morbidity rate is very high in naïve populations, and significant pain and distress occur in some species. Sequelae may include decreased milk yield, permanent hoof damage and chronic mastitis. High mortality rates can be seen in young animals. Although foot and mouth disease was once found worldwide, it has been eradicated from some regions including North America and most of Europe. Where it is endemic, this disease is a major constraint to the international livestock trade. Unless strict precautions are followed, FMD can be readily re-introduced into disease-free livestock. Once this occurs, the disease can spread rapidly through a region, particularly if detection is delayed


The foot and mouth disease virus (FMDV) is a member of the genus Aphthovirus in the family Picornaviridae. There are seven immunologically distinct serotypes - O, A, C, SAT 1, SAT 2, SAT 3 and Asia 1 - and over 60 strains within these serotypes. New strains occasionally develop spontaneously.

FMDV serotypes and strains vary within each geographic region. Serotype O is the most common serotype worldwide. This serotype is responsible for a pan-Asian epidemic that began in 1990 and has affected many countries throughout the world. Other serotypes also cause serious outbreaks. Immunity to one serotype does not provide any cross-protection to other serotypes. Cross-protection against other strains varies with their antigenic similarity.

Important factors

• Short incubation period

• Release of virus prior to appearance of clinical signs

• Massive quantities of virus released

• Extended survival in the environment

• Multitude of routes of virus transmission

• Minimal size of the infective dose

Species Affected

FMDV can infect most or all members of the order Artiodactyla (cloven-hooved mammals), as well as a few species in other orders. Each species varies in its susceptibility to infection and clinical disease, as well as its ability to transmit the virus to other animals. Livestock susceptible to FMD include cattle, pigs, sheep, goats, water buffalo and reindeer. Llamas, alpacas and camels can be infected experimentally, but do not appear to be very susceptible. FMDV can also infect at least 70 species of wild animals including African buffalo (Syncerus caffer), bison (Bison spp.), elk, moose, chamois, giraffes, wildebeest, blackbuck, warthogs, kudu, impala, and several species of deer, antelopes and gazelles. Susceptible non cloven-hooved species include hedgehogs, armadillos, kangaroos, nutrias, capybaras, guinea pigs, rats and mice.

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