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Foot-and-mouth Disease FAQ

Basics about the highly contagious disease

by Ricco Villanueva Siasoco

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What is foot-and-mouth disease?

Identified in 1897, foot-and-mouth disease is an acute infectious viral disease in cattle, sheep, pigs, and other hooved animals. Symptoms of the disease are fever, loss of appetite and weight, and blisters on the mucous membranes.

Though the disease is highly contagious among livestock, animals such as goats, elephants, hedgehogs, and rats are also susceptible.

Can humans get foot-and-mouth disease?

Humans rarely contract foot-and-mouth disease. According to the UK's Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, and Food, "cases of foot and mouth disease have no implications for the human food chain."

Is there a cure?

There is no cure for foot-and-mouth disease. New vaccines introduced in 1938, as well as sanitary controls, eliminated the disease from North and Central America, Australia and New Zealand, Japan, and Ireland.

What areas are currently affected?

In March 2001, foot-and-mouth disease reappeared across Europe and the Middle East, including Britain, France, The Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, and United Arab Emirates. Unrelated cases were reported in Argentina.

What can be done to prevent the spread of the disease?

Infected animals can be quarantined and slaughtered to prevent the spread of the disease. In Great Britain and France, more than 180,000 sheep, cattle, and pigs were slaughtered to prevent the spread of the disease.

The United States, Australia, Canada, and Japan have taken steps to prevent the spread of the disease by restricting the import of meat from the European Union. Morocco, Hungary, Slovakia and Tunisia have banned grains, in addition to livestock, imported from the EU.

Where can I find out more information?

The United Kingdom's Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, and Food maintains a daily situation report, list of infected sites, and extensive information.

The United States Department of Agriculture also contains information about the world situation, traveler education, product restrictions, and more.





Did you know?  Life expectancy for women in the United States is about five years longer than for men.

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