Foot and Mouth Disease (from here on referred to as FMD) is an extremely contagious virus. The virus primarily affects cloven-hooved animals including but not limited to sheep, cattle, and pigs. The managerial problems related to this disease could easily put a farm out of business if protective measures are not put in place ahead of time. There are seven known strains of the disease, none of which are contagious to humans, but it is highly communicable among livestock and people can inadvertently carry it for long periods of time.
The symptoms of FMD are essentially the same in all species that it affects.
-Blister-like lesions on the mouth, between the hooves, and on the tongue
-In ewes, the teats may also develop lesions
FMD is not often fatal, but it can cause permanent damage to an animal and limit its productivity. This could result in the culling of livestock that otherwise would have been kept.
Luckily, this disease can be managed and controlled,
despite its highly contagious nature. The best method of fighting this disease
is always prevention.
-Government agencies such as the United States Department of Agriculture have gone to great lengths to prevent the spread of this disease across any borders. Individual farmers would benefit from using similar methods in order to just keep their farms secure.
-Control what people and animals come to your farm.
-If you introduce a new animal to your herd, quarantine and monitor them for at least a month before putting them with the rest of your animals.
-Vaccinations have been developed for most of the strains of FMD. Check to see if any of these vaccinations are available and permitted for production purposes where you live.
Information packets and special identification kits are also now available to veterinarians so that they can quickly diagnose FMD and will know the proper channels through which to contact government agencies in case the disease is detected. When a country has an outbreak, other countries take defensive measures such as restricting or completely banning the import of specific types of animals. This is why there are no recorded cases of FMD in Australia.
To conclude, the best way to protect your animals from Foot and Mouth Disease is a cautious, conservative management plan that includes vaccinations and strict control over what enters and leaves your production facility.
The American Red Cross Disease Glossary,
U.S. Department of Agriculture's
Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service,
Intervet Medical Research,
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