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Animal Industry Bureau

Questions Commonly Asked About Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD)

Question Mark GraphicWhat exactly is Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD)?

A. Foot and Mouth Disease is a severe, highly communicable viral disease.
Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) is caused by a fast-spreading virus, and all cloven-hoofed animals are susceptible to the disease. Nearly 100% of the animals in an exposed herd will become ill, and young animals may die of the disease. FMD is one of the most dreaded livestock diseases known.
In Iowa, susceptible animals include:

  • Domestic Swine (Hogs and Pigs)
  • Cattle
  • Captive and wild deer
  • Sheep
  • Goats
  • Bison
  • Elk
  • Llamas
  • Cloven-hoofed zoo animals

Would a livestock owner know if their livestock have it, are there symptoms?

A. Blisters (vesicles) may form in the animal’s mouth or muzzle, causing slobbering and drooling. Later, the blisters will break, forming raw patches or ulcers. Blisters and sores can also develop on the animal’s teats, causing mastitis in dairy cattle. Blisters on feet result in lameness. Affected animals will be reluctant or unable to drink, eat or walk, and they will lose weight rapidly. Swine and cattle usually will show signs of disease within two to seven days after being exposed to the virus. Sheep and goats may have minimal clinical signs of disease after an incubation period of up to 14 days.

Do we have Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) in Iowa or the U.S.?

A. No, we do not have FMD in the United States or Iowa. The last known case occurred in 1929 in California. We are working hard to educate and inform every Iowan about this dreaded animal disease, so that we NEVER have a case here in Iowa, or the U.S.

question markHow are you educating Iowans about Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD)?

A. Some of the proactive measures we are using to educate the public are:

  • FMD press releases to the media
  • Radio, TV, and newspaper shows and interviews
  • Produced and sent out thousands of FMD brochures
  • Produced and put up over 260 laminated posters in Iowa Sale Barns
  • Produced a special memo and flyer for the travel industry
  • Built this FMD web site to inform you and answer your question

question mark graphicCan Humans get Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD)?

A. FMD does not readily affect humans. The disease has no implications for the human food chain. Persons who have been around infected animals are capable of carrying the virus in their nasal passages for as long as 28 hours. While the disease is not considered to be a threat to humans, it is possible for a person to spread the virus to susceptible animals.

 question markWhy should we be concerned about this, what’s the ‘big’ deal?

A. Even though humans cannot get this disease, if one case of FMD is found in Iowa, it could devastate the entire livestock industry. Iowa is number one in the nation in pork production and number five in cattle production. FMD could mean a loss of several billions of dollars for Iowa’s economy.

question markIf cattle and pigs could get this, would our milk and meat be safe to eat?

A. Yes! We do not have FMD in the U.S. or Iowa, and our meat and milk products are safe to eat, absolutely. Even in FMD infected countries, the meat and milk are safe for human consumption. Animals that are suspected to carry FMD and those that have the disease are humanely euthanized to insure that they do not spread the disease to other ‘clean’ animals
question markI hear about Foot and Mouth Disease and ‘Mad Cow’ disease, are they different?

A. Yes, very much so. Listed below are the differences of the diseases:

Mad Cow’ 
(Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy)

Cause: Prion protein

Transmission: By *consumption of infected tissue animal to animal (*This is not allowed in and mechanical vectorsthe United States)

Disease: Chronic, progressive neurological disease

Incubation: 2-8 years 

Mortality:  All infected animals die 

Temperament changes nervousness or aggression abnormal posture, difficulty in rising and uncoordinated, decreased milk production and loss of body weight despite continued appetite.

Foot and Mouth Disease

Cause: Virus

Transmission: Fast-spreading virus

Disease: Acute, vesicular (blister) disease

Incubation: 2-7 days

Mortality: Young animals may die most adult animals will recover but may never regain productivity

Symptoms: Increased temperature, vesicles (blisters) followed by erosions in the mouth or on the feet or on the teats, slobbering, lameness, decreased milk production, decreased appetite due to mouth lesions.

Retrun to Foot-and Mouth Disease


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