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FMD and Prevention
Watch this video to learn more about foot-and-mouth disease. 
How does FMD affect consumers?

FMD is not a public health concern but an outbreak could ultimately threaten the entire U.S. economy. Click here to find out more.


What can livestock producers do?
Being prepared and informed is essential in keeping your farm and the U.S. livestock industry free from FMD. Get more information here.

Frequently Asked Questions about FMD

What is foot-and-mouth disease (FMD)?
What are the potential economic ramifications of an FMD outbreak in the U.S.?
Where does FMD occur?
Can people get the disease?
Can my cat or dog contract FMD?
How do you get rid of FMD?
Why go to such great lengths to eradicate a disease that doesn't usually kill animals?
What is the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) doing to protect the United States from FMD?
What is the USDA doing to prevent travelers from bringing FMD into the United States?
What should travelers do if they are planning to visit a farm or are in contact with livestock while abroad?
Can travelers bring animal products back to the United States from Europe?
How do farmers support USDA in its efforts to prevent FMD in the United States?
Where can I find additional information?

Q: What is foot-and-mouth disease (FMD)?
A: Foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) is a serious animal disease that only affects animals with cloven (divided) hooves, such as cattle, swine, sheep, goats and deer. Dogs, cats, horses, and other animals without cloven hooves are not susceptible to FMD. The FMD virus is highly contagious and easily spread among susceptible animals by wind, infected animals, people, and vehicles. 

FMD is not a public health or food safety concern. 

FMD is not related to Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease (HFMD), a common childhood illness, nor is it the same as bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), commonly known as “mad cow disease.”

Q: What are the potential economic ramifications of an FMD outbreak in the U.S.?
A:
Because of the potential for rapid spread, with nearly 100 percent of exposed animals ultimately becoming infected, an outbreak of FMD could have very sizeable economic consequences that would be felt by many sectors of the U.S. economy, not just agriculture.

The degree of economic impact would depend on how quickly the disease is identified and contained. If the outbreak is controlled quickly and eliminated – as with the last U.S. outbreak in 1929 – the damage might be small. However, if the disease becomes widespread, the economic loss could easily reach billions of dollars.

The most serious economic effects would result from large-scale losses of livestock and severe restrictions of agricultural exports. In addition, travel in areas affected by an FMD outbreak would be restricted, which would have negative effects on commerce and tourism.

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Q: Where does FMD occur?
A:
FMD currently present in more than 100 countries on the continents of Africa, South America, Asia, the Middle East and some parts of Europe. However, North America, Central America, Australia, New Zealand, Chile and many European countries are considered free of FMD.

Q: Can people get the disease?
A:
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization agree that FMD is not a threat to public health or food safety and does not affect the safety of meat sold in supermarkets and restaurants.

Q: Can my cat or dog contract FMD?
A:
No, dogs and cats cannot become infected with FMD; however, they are capable of spreading the disease.

Q: How do you get rid of FMD?
A:
The FMD virus can be killed with heat, low humidity or some disinfectants. To control the spread of the disease from animal to animal and farm to farm, infected animals must be quarantined and often euthanized, and human and vehicle traffic around the perimeter of the farm must be stopped.

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Q: Why go to such great lengths to eradicate a disease that doesn’t usually kill animals?
A:
Farmers and ranchers are committed to caring for their animals, and protecting the security and well-being of animal herds is their top priority. Farmers and ranchers follow industry-wide, science-based animal care guidelines already in place. 

While FMD does not typically kill the animal, it inhibits their ability to eat in the short-term and permanently affects the health, productivity and overall well-being of infected animals. Further, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) may determine that the quickest, most-effective way to prevent more animals from getting sick is to humanely depopulate and euthanize and properly dispose of livestock in targeted areas.

Q: What is the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) doing to protect the United States from FMD?
A:
The USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) vigilantly and continuously monitors for FMD in the United States and worldwide. APHIS also works with U.S. Customs and Border Protection to screen for products that could carry the FMD virus at U.S. ports of entry. Additionally, whenever an FMD outbreak occurs elsewhere in the world, the USDA prohibits the importation of susceptible animals and animal products from FMD-affected countries.

For more information about how APHIS protects the United States from FMD, see the USDA-APHIS fact sheet "Protecting America from Foot-and- Mouth Disease and other High-Consequence Livestock Diseases.”

Q: What is USDA doing to prevent travelers from bringing FMD into the United States?
A:
USDA prohibits travelers from carrying into the United States any agricultural products that could spread FMD and other harmful agricultural pests and diseases. Accordingly, passengers must declare all food items and other material of plant or animal origin in their possession.

Passengers must also report visits to farms or other livestock facilities. Failure to declare any items may result in delays and fines of up to $1,000. Individuals traveling from European Union countries or other countries considered to be FMD-affected must have their shoes disinfected if they have visited farms or other high-risk areas.

Q: What should travelers do if they are planning to visit a farm or are in contact with livestock while abroad?
A:
All international travelers must state on their customs declaration form whether or not they have been on a farm or in contact with livestock and if they are bringing any meat products from their travels back with them. APHIS officials will inspect the baggage of all travelers who indicate they have been on a farm or in contact with livestock. Any soiled footwear must be disinfected with detergent and bleach.

If travelers have been around livestock in an affected country and they have livestock at home in the United States, they should avoid contact with their animals for five days after returning. In addition, soiled clothing must be washed and disinfected prior to returning to the United States.

Q: Can travelers bring animal products back to the United States from Europe?
A:
Any animal products from cattle, swine, sheep, goats, deer and other cloven-hoofed animals will be confiscated upon return to the United States. Hard cheeses and canned products with a shelf life are exceptions and allowed to enter the country.

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Q: How do farmers support USDA in its efforts to prevent FMD in the United States?
A:
Farmers support U.S. efforts against FMD by closely monitoring their herd for excessive salivating, lameness and other signs of FMD and immediately reporting any symptoms to their veterinarian, state or federal animal disease control officials or their county agricultural agent.

Additional Information

More information about FMD is available online at www.aphis.usda.gov and through the following links:

USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) Fact Sheet on FMD 

USDA-APHIS Protecting America from FMD and Other High-Consequence Livestock Diseases 

USDA-APHIS Response Plan for FMD and Other Foreign Animal Diseases

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)

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