foot-and-mouth disease

foot-and-mouth disease
/foot"n mowth"/, Vet. Pathol.
an acute, contagious, febrile disease of cattle, hogs, sheep, and other hoofed animals, caused by any of various rhinoviruses and characterized by vesicular eruptions in the mouth and about the hoofs, teats, and udder. Also called hoof-and-mouth disease, aphthous fever, aftosa.

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also called  hoof-and-mouth disease , or  aftosa 

      a highly contagious viral disease affecting practically all cloven-footed domesticated mammals, including cattle, sheep, goats, and pigs. Wild herbivores such as bison, deer, antelopes, reindeer, giraffes, and llamas are also susceptible. The horse is resistant to the infection. FMD is characterized by the formation of painful, fluid-filled vesicles (blisters) on the tongue, lips, and other tissues of the mouth and on parts of the body where the skin is thin, as on the udder and teats, between the two toes of the feet, and around the coronary band above the hoof. Laboratory tests are needed to confirm the diagnosis because several other diseases can produce similar lesions. Because of its rapid spread and impact on animal productivity, FMD is considered to be the most economically devastating livestock disease in the world. The disease is not a human health hazard.

      There are seven major immunologically distinct serotypes of the foot-and-mouth virus. Each serotype includes a number of strains having different degrees of infectivity, virulence, and pathogenicity. Immunity to one serotype does not convey immunity to any of the others. The virus is spread primarily by contact between infected and susceptible animals. An infected animal releases the virus in all excretions and secretions, especially during the onset of clinical signs. People can carry the virus on their hands (particularly under fingernails), clothes, and shoes and in their respiratory tract. Contaminated farm equipment and vehicles also can spread the disease, and the wind can transport aerosols containing the virus for several kilometres. There is no evidence that insects are involved in transmission. The virus has an affinity for epithelium (the covering of the skin and mucous membranes of the gastrointestinal tract); it forms a primary vesicle where it gains entrance into the body. Within 24 to 48 hours, it enters the bloodstream, causing fever. A characteristic smacking of the lips then usually becomes prominent in the infected animal, ushering in the phase of the formation of vesicles on the tongue, gums, and lips. These vesicles rupture in about 24 hours, leaving raw, inflamed, and extremely painful surfaces that heal in one to two weeks. By this time the animal refuses to eat solid food. Blisters also appear on the feet, causing lameness.

      Eradication efforts must begin as soon as a diagnosis of FMD is made. The premises should be quarantined, and all infected and susceptible animals on the premises should be euthanatized and their carcasses buried or cremated. Although either method will destroy the virus, burying is preferred. Cremation rapidly reduces the mass of carcasses but consumes considerable fuel. Because the virus can survive weeks to months in the environment, buildings and equipment must be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected and the premises left uninhabited for several months. Vaccination can help control outbreaks, but vaccinated animals cannot be distinguished from infected animals by laboratory tests, which precludes proving the disease has been eradicated. The availability of FMD vaccine banks enables rapid production of vaccines based on strains identified in a particular outbreak.

      The losses caused by foot-and mouth disease are tremendous. The mortality in ordinary mild epizootics (animal epidemics) is only about 5 percent, but malignant forms of the disease have led to losses of up to 50 percent. In those animals that survive, great losses in weight occur because the animals cannot eat. In surviving milk-producing animals, the flow of milk is sharply diminished. Abortions and mastitis (inflammation of the breast or udder) are common, and secondary infections are frequent.

      FMD is endemic in many regions of Asia, Africa, the Middle and Far East, and South America. In the modern world, increased mobility of animals and people and increased density of animal populations are important factors in promoting the spread of FMD. North America has remained largely free of the disease because of a rigorous surveillance system; the last major outbreak in the United States was in 1929. In early 2001 a major outbreak occurred in the United Kingdom, where more than 6 million animals had to be slaughtered. Outbreaks in The Netherlands and France followed shortly. In response the United States temporarily banned importation of all ruminants and swine and their products from the 15-nation European Union. Cooked and cured meats were not included because heating and processing kills the virus. The last major outbreak in the United Kingdom prior to 2001 was in 1967.

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Universalium. 2010.

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Foot and mouth disease — Foot Foot (f[oo^]t), n.; pl. {Feet} (f[=e]t). [OE. fot, foot, pl. fet, feet. AS. f[=o]t, pl. f[=e]t; akin to D. voet, OHG. fuoz, G. fuss, Icel. f[=o]tr, Sw. fot, Dan. fod, Goth. f[=o]tus, L. pes, Gr. poy s, Skr. p[=a]d, Icel. fet step, pace… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • foot-and-mouth disease — [foot′ n mouth′] n. an acute, highly contagious viral disease of cloven footed animals, characterized by fever and by blisters in the mouth and around the hoofs; hoof and mouth disease: it is sometimes transmitted to humans …   English World dictionary

  • foot-and-mouth disease — foot′ and mouth′ disease n. vet a contagious viral disease of cattle and other hoofed animals, characterized by blisters in the mouth and about the hoofs Also called hoof and mouth disease • Etymology: 1860–65 …   From formal English to slang

  • foot-and-mouth disease — ► NOUN ▪ a contagious viral disease of cattle and sheep, causing ulceration of the hoofs and around the mouth …   English terms dictionary

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  • Foot-and-mouth disease — A highly infectious virus that can infect people but affects them most by infecting livestock cattle, pigs, sheep and goats. The virus is in the same family of viruses as those causing the common cold. The virus is spread by many routes by… …   Medical dictionary

  • foot-and-mouth disease — noun Date: 1862 an acute contagious febrile disease especially of cloven footed animals that is caused by serotypes of a picornavirus (species Foot and mouth disease virus of the genus Aphthovirus) and is marked by ulcerating vesicles in the… …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • foot-and-mouth disease — noun A highly contagious and sometimes fatal viral disease that can affect animals with cloven hooves. So Joe starts telling the citizen about the foot and mouth disease and the cattle traders and taking action in the matter and the citizen… …   Wiktionary

  • foot-and-mouth disease — N UNCOUNT Foot and mouth disease or foot and mouth is a serious and highly infectious disease that affects cattle, sheep, pigs, and goats …   English dictionary

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