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Foot & Mouth Disease

At this point in time, our country as not had Foot And Mouth disease since 1929. Due to the contagious nature and devastating effects that this disease would have on livestock, our economy, and our food supply, EVERYONE needs to be aware of the seriousness of the disease and know how easily this disease is spread. Foot and Mouth does not have health effects on humans, but humans can spread the disease to animals.

This disease is considered one of the most contagious viral disease known and affects all cloven hoofed animals, including swine, cattle, sheep, goats, and deer. Clinical signs include blisters and sores on the mouth, tongue, lips, teats, and between and around the claws. While not always fatal, animals that survive become debilitated lose production capacity, and can serve as viral shedders in spreading the disease. Humans are not infected, and there is no treatment or approved vaccine for animal use. Horses, other animals and pets, although they are not directly affected could spread the disease to other animals if they come in contact with the disease.

The virus can also be mechanically transmitted on people's shoes, clothes, other personal effects, and equipment. It can remain airborne and spread up to a radius of approximately 40 miles. In addition, the feeding of contaminated food items and waste food products is a major source of how it is spread. This disease is so devastating because of its ability to infect multiple species. Dr. David Marshall, North Carolina's State veterinarian, said that he was particularly concerned with the introduction of the virus by animals and product originating in FMD affected countries entering the US secondarily through non infected countries, It would be prudent to be wary of any imported agricultural or meat food product during this high risk period." North Carolina Department of Agriculture is recommending the following precautions as an aid in preventing the introduction of FMD:

Increase farm biosecurity measures by limiting traffic and personal access of persons not directly affiliated with farm operations.
Be aware of the international travel status of farm employees and restrict access if they have traveled overseas within the past 30 days.
Limit introductions of new additions to the herd. If necessary, be aware of the background and health status of the additions, isolating and observing them for a period of 10-14 days prior to introduction.
Refrain from feeding to animals any garbage or waste food products of any type.
Educate farm employees not to receive any gifts or products, particularly food or meat items, from relatives that may reside overseas.
Restrict the purchase or use of feed, forage, hay, vaccines, and medications to those produced domestically.
Purchase or lease no used farm equipment unless confident of it's domestic origin Marshall said "While a safety net is in place to aid in the prevention of the introduction of this virus, the nature of this disease makes it vitally important that all North Carolinians, particularly those who travel internationally and are involved in the agricultural industry, to become educated and aid in the effort on the local level, This is a situation to be overly cautious and not take anything for granted."

Livestock owners should be especially observant of the health status of their animals and investigate any animal showing clinical signs suggestive of FMD. Signs include blisters or sores on the muzzle, feet, teats, or mouth; lameness associated with foot lesions; or lack of appetite or excessive slobbering associated with mouth lesions.
While other diseases can cause similar clinical signs, anything suspicious should be pursued through veterinary examination. 

NC Producers and Veterinarians are encouraged to report any suspicious case to the NCDA, Veterinary Division at 919-733-7601.

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