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2001 UK Epidemic
Royal College of Agriculture
FMD Virus: Viability
Foot-and-mouth Disease (FMD) is considered the most costly of all animal diseases. First, it is often necessary to conduct wholesale slaughter of animals wherever there is an outbreak. Second, no animals from an area not declared free of the disease may be moved to other locations or used in trade (including trade in semen) except as processed food subjected to high temperatures. It is also one of the most contagious. FMD is a viral disease that has a broad host range from hedgehogs to artiodactyls to primates to armadillos to rodents. Severity of the disease, however, varies greatly, even within a species. It can infect all cloven-hoofed animals – cattle, goats, sheep, pigs, water buffalo, deer, bison, antelope, reindeer, llamas, chamois, alpacas, vicunas, giraffes, impala, elk, and camels. But the rule of thumb is sheep are carriers, pigs are amplifiers, and cows are indicators.
There are seven sero-types of FMD virus (an apthovirus of the family Picornaviridae): A, O, C, Asia 1, and Southern African Territories (SAT) 1,2 and 3. And over 60 sub-types have been described.
The virus is spread not only animal to animal through aerosol transmittal, it can attach to truck tires and clothing and equipment in mechanical transmittal called fomites. In cattle, the first symptoms include dullness, refusal to feed and a fall in milk production. From there the symptoms expand to blisters on tongue, gums, muzzle, nostrils, teats and the spaces between the hoof segments, sometimes crippling the animals. In other animals there may be fewer signs of the disease and, in some cases, animals die without showing any symptoms.