What is FMD?

Foot and mouth (FMD) disease is one of the world’s most economically significant viral diseases of livestock. The virus infects cattle, swine, sheep, and many other cloven-hoofed species. It is a transboundary animal disease (TAD) that significantly impacts livestock production and disrupts regional and international trade in animals and animal products.

Each strain requires a different vaccine to provide immunity to a vaccinated animal. The presence of early detection and warning systems and the implementation of effective surveillance are among the initiatives that can be used to prevent it. FMD is the first disease for which the World Organisation For Animal Health (OIE) released an official list of disease-free countries which can be officially declared as free of the disease either in their entirety or in defined zones and countries.

Prevention and Control

The implementation of the FMD control strategy varies from country to country, and it is based on the epidemiological situation of the disease. In general, the only way to prevent the introduction and spread of the virus is for all livestock owners and producers to maintain sound biosecurity practices.

Depending on the severity of the FMD outbreak, vaccination approaches can be designed to achieve mass coverage or be targeted to specific animal sub-populations or zones. Vaccination programs carried out in a target population should meet several critical criteria.

The vaccines used must meet OIE potency and safety standards, and the strain or strains in the vaccine must antigenically match those circulating in the field. It is essential to use inactivated virus vaccines because inactivated viruses cannot multiply in vaccinated animals.

Vaccination can help to prevent FMD, but it is up to national authorities to decide whether to apply it or not.

Geographical Distribution

FMD is widespread in several parts of Asia and most of Africa, and the Middle East. Many countries in Latin America apply zoning and are declared as FMD-free, either with or without vaccination.

Most people are aware that FMD is a transboundary animal disease that can occur sporadically in any typically free area. However, countries like Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia, Central and Western Europe are currently free of FMD.

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