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USDA / NJDA Foot and Mouth Disease Alert Animal Health Alert
March 2001 FOOT AND MOUTH DISEASE

Foot & Mouth Disease Facts


This alert is issued jointly by
NJDA, Division of Animal Health
and USDA/APHIS Veterinary Services

Due to the number of international travelers entering our state, USDA considers New Jersey to be at serious risk for the introduction of foreign animal diseases. Therefore, as a result of the recent outbreak of foot and mouth disease (FMD) in Great Britain and the potential threat of its spread to the United States, NJDA, in cooperation with USDA/APHIS/VS has prepared the following information summary about this virus and distributed it to all accredited veterinarians in the state.

We hope that this information will help you remain alert for and quickly recognize signs of the disease. Remember that all vesicular diseases in livestock and horses are reportable diseases. It is critical that you contact your veterinarian immediately if you suspect FMD in your animals. Your veterinarian must call either the NJDA, Division of Animal Health (609-292-3965) or USDA-APHIS Veterinary Services (609-259-8387) immediately if (s)he suspects a case of FMD.

You should be aware that the outbreak of FMD in the European Union is in no way connected to the European outbreak of BSE, or "mad cow disease," despite the overlapping geographic location of these two unrelated diseases.

NJDA field staff have visited all licensed swine producers to review the precautions that protect their livestock against infection with FMD virus. These producers are inspected quarterly to document their compliance with the statutes and regulations that govern the feeding of plate waste to swine. These precautions have been developed to prevent infection from many viruses, including FMDv. In addition, local auctions and livestock markets, regularly inspected, have been kept informed about their role in identifying illness in livestock and their responsibility to report any suspect illness to the sappropriate state or federal office.

Resources:
NJDA, Division of Animal Health (609) 292-3965
USDA/APHIS/VS, New Jersey (609) 259-8387
USDA/APHIS Emergency Programs Staff (800) 940-6524 or (301) 734-8073

USDA has also set up a toll-free telephone center to respond to questions from the public, industry, and the media regarding USDA's response to the outbreak of food-and-mouth disease in Europe. The toll-free number is 1-800-601-9327. International callers can reach the center by dialing 01-301-734-9257. The phone center is staffed by veterinarians and import/export experts from USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service who can explain the restrictions and regulations impacting people and products arriving at U.S. ports-of-entry from foot-and-mouth disease-affected countries.

The following phone numbers and webpages have been set up to notify travelers of what locations are closed in the United Kingdom and in the Republic of Ireland:
For the United Kingdom call 800-462-2748 or log onto http://www.travelbritain.org
For The Republic of Ireland call 800-223-6470 or log onto http://www.irelandvacations.com

Websites:
www.state.nj.us/agriculture for NJDA
http://www.aphis.usda.gov/oa/fmd/index.html for USDA/APHIS
www.maff.gov.uk for United Kingdom Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food
www.oie.int/eng/en_index.htm for Office International Des Epizooties (OIE)
www.oie.int/eng/maladies/fiches/A_A010.HTM for a description of FMD
http://sites.state.pa.us/PA_Exec/Agriculture/foot&mouthdisease/foot&mouth/index.htm - Pennslyvania
http://www.agmkt.state.ny.us/AI/FMD.html - New York

FOOT AND MOUTH DISEASE

Background

FMD is a severe, highly contagious viral disease of cloven-hoofed animals, including, but not limited to, cattle, swine, sheep, goats and deer. Llama and alpaca have low susceptibility. Horses are not susceptible to the virus but, like small mammals, can transmit the virus. The disease is rarely fatal in adult animals, although mortality in young animals may be high. FMD is endemic in Africa, Asia, South America, and parts of Europe but the United States has been free of FMD since 1929.

Current Outbreak

The current outbreak in the United Kingdom began on February 20, 2001, in Essex County, England, on two infected premises, a slaughter plant and a nearby farm. By March 7, 2001, the 88 confirmed cases in the UK and one in Northern Ireland had resulted in the slaughter of almost 50,000 swine, cattle and sheep with an additional 36,000 awaiting slaughter. USDA/APHIS issued an interim rule, retroactively effective on January 29, 2001, prohibiting the importation of all ruminants and swine, and most products derived from ruminants and swine, unless those products were processed in such a manner as to inactivate the FMD virus.

USDA/APHIS has issued reminders to travelers returning to the United States from the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland indicating that they MUST tell the United States Customs Service if they have been near livestock or wildlife. Passengers making such declarations will be referred to USDA/APHIS/Plant Protection and Quarantine for further clearance, which may include disinfection of footwear and clothing. In addition, these travelers are being cautioned that they may NOT bring any meat product into the United States from the UK, Northern Ireland, or other FMD-infected countries.

Because of the extremely contagious nature of this disease, as a special precaution, producers are urged not to let individuals recently returned from an FMD-infected country onto their properties for one week after their return.

Transmission

FMD is one of the most contagious animal diseases in the world. It is spread by animals, people, and materials that carry the virus into contact with susceptible animals. Airborne spread of the virus takes place readily as the virus can travel a considerable distance (up to 40 miles) in air. Humans, though not clinically affected, may retain the virus in their nasal passages for up to 72 hours after exposure to infected material. Although horses are not affected by the disease, they may carry the virus on their hooves and coats. Even though horses are still permitted entry into the United States from the UK and Northern Ireland, the US Animal Import Center quarantines all horses coming from Europe for 3 days, and routinely disinfects the hooves and coats of horses under quarantine.

Other methods of FMD transmission include:

  • animal carriers such as trailers or cages
  • contaminated facilities used to hold infected animals
  • raw or improperly cooked garbage containing infected meat
  • contaminated water
  • semen from an infected donor

The FMD incubation period is two to 14 days with most clinical signs occurring within three to five days of exposure. Virus may be present in milk and semen for up to four days before the onset of clinical signs.

Symptoms of FMD are similar to the symptoms of vesicular stomatitis, swine vesicular disease, vesicular exanthema of swine, BVD, mucosal disease, IBR, foot rot and bluetongue.

CONTACT YOUR VETERINARIAN IMMEDIATELY IF YOU DETECT ANY OF THE FOLLOWING SYMPTOMS SINCE LABORATORY TESTS ARE THE ONLY WAY TO IDENTIFY THE CAUSATIVE FACTOR OF ANY VESICULAR DISEASE. The only laboratory in the nation that can test for FMD is the USDA/APHIS Foreign Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory at Plum Island, New York.

Symptoms

General

  • Vesicles (blisters) on the tongue, dental pad, gums cheek, hard and soft palate, lips, nostrils and/or muzzle with resultant slobbering
  • Vesicles on live tissue above the hoof wall, teats, udders, snout of pigs, and between the hooves with associated lameness

Cattle

  • Fever, anorexia, decrease in milk production for two to three days
  • Smacking of the lips
  • Excessive, ropey salivation
  • Vesicles and or erosions on the udder
  • Some animals recover within eight to 15 days but can be carriers for life and remain a threat to the livestock industry

Pigs

  • May develop severe foot lesions
  • High mortality in piglets

Sheep and goats

  • Extreme lameness
  • Lesions are less pronounced but sheep show dental pad lesions
  • Milking animals dry up
  • Increased mortality in young stock

Control

Due to its highly infectious nature, FMD is one of the most difficult animal diseases to control. There is a vaccine, but it is not available in the United States, and countries using the vaccine are not allowed to export vaccinated animals because there is no way to differentiate between vaccinated and infected animals. Control is based on quarantine and slaughter.

The virus is inactivated outside the pH range of 6.0 to 9.0; by desiccation; and at temperatures greater than 56*C (133*F). Many commonly-used disinfectants containing iodophores, quaternary ammonium compounds, hypoclorite and phenol CANNOT eradicate FMD virus, especially in the presence of manure. Effective disinfectants include sodium hydroxide (soda ash), sodium carbonate, and citric or acetic acid (vinegar).

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