Foot and mouth disease: What is it? Foot and mouth is a notifiable disease meaning that if an outbreak is surmised it has to be reported to Defra. DEFRA is Foot and mouth is also viral infection much like rabies, however, it is only passed between animals. This viral infection is only passed between animals with cloven hoofs and it is hugely contagious and is massively common in animals kept on farms. This is because is affects cows, pigs, goats and sheep.
What causes it and how is it spread? As FMD is a virus it can be spread in multiple different ways including: through faeces saliva milk from animals carrying the infection and it is also spread by airborne spreading. Inhaling contaminated breath from additional animals in one area, e.g. a farm is one of the main introductory forms of spreading. Once the virus has taken hold it can also spread further through painful blisters the infection itself causes.
These blisters further spread the infection because they contain the FMD Virus it their fluid which when burst they are able to contaminate grounds other animals walk over and graze from. Indirect contact: this transpires when animals are exposed to infected bedding, food, and water etc. Direct Contact: this is a major contributing factor to the spread of the disease and spreads it dramatically. It is where two or more animals touch and one is carrying the infection. Once nother animal become infected it inadvertently creates a chain reaction. This chain reaction, if Snot contained, can soon lead to a whole herd or even farm becoming infected with undoubtedly one of the most feared farm disease. What are the symptoms? Although the disease affects all different hoofed animals each animal can display different symptoms.Here is a breakdown of examples from different hoofed animals: Pigs: sudden squealing when moving. Limping with evident pain/lameness. Hoofs become covered in blisters near the top off the foot, skin and foot may even start to break away causing significant pain and making it open to extra infection but in pigs it is relatively rare. struggles to stand and will be seen laying down frequently. they can also refuse to eat leading to underweight and pigs less chance of reproduction. cows/cattle: cattle tend to show more fever like symptoms including: high temperatures quivering lowered milk production. salivating/dribbling. However, they also have vesicles and open sores present on their hoofs and also in their mouth and in the tongue. Sheep: Like pig’s sheep are known to lie down on the floor a lot and have no energy to get up. Severe limping. Blisters, however, can be found at the anterior of the mouth which is where the tongue passes food to be chewed by the lower teeth. This area is called the dental pad they can also appear on the hoof like all hoofed animals. It appears in multiple different places on hoofs such as: the coronet cleft, the section in which the fore part of the hoof called the horn touches the leg. They are also known to be hesitant to move and often stand still and refuse to get up after being encouraged to move. Increased risk and sum of lambs being stillborn or being refused milk from their mother leading to death not long after birth. Lethargy. How can the disease be prevented? Foot and mouth is very easily circulated and if an outbreak occurs it doesn’t take long to spread unless there are sufficient enough measures in place to help stop it from becoming a pandemic. There are seven different types of the infection and vaccines are available to aid and intercept animals from contracting foot and mouth disease. There are vaccines for each type and if an animal is vaccinated against one type they are still as susceptible to other types.Foot and mouth may be more easily prevented if there was one vaccine for all the different types making their immune systems already prepared for an outbreak. Hygiene is paramount when preventing the start and further spreading of the disease. This can be done in several different ways including: washing hands after touching or handling animals. have antibacterial hand gel installations around the farm. wear clean protective clothing when around the animals. do not wear the same clothes from farm to farm as animals at one farm may have FMD and any traces from contaminated clothes can introduce it to another farm. Make sure strangers on the farm are abiding by the same procedures washing and are sanitizing their hands, wearing clean protective clothes (can provide clothes for them to wear and clean afterwards make sure they do the same when they leave to prevent any spread through touch on the outside world).Using strong enough disinfectants when cleaning any equipment after use. Have separate cleaning equipment distributed to every dissimilar animal. Doing this makes sure that if one herd of animals starts suffering from foot and mouth, the probability of it being spread to other groupings is considerably minimised clean vehicles or have separate travel arrangements which keeps animals to keep animals separated when being transported. House dissimilar groups separately e.g. cattle in one field and goats in another. Health checking: this is the most crucial one and animals must be regularly checked for any illness not just Foot and Mouth. Look for symptoms and health checking them regularly inside their mouth and around the hoofs for the disease especially. Spotting any symptoms early could avert the rapid spread of the disease.