Foot-and-mouth Disease


Foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) is a highly contagious viral disease affecting domesticated and wild cloven-hooved animals. FMD, a significant threat in terms of animal health, is one of the priority infectious diseases notifiable to the World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH). It is the most economically important disease affecting livestock. The disease is characterized by fever, lameness and the appearance of vesicular lesions in the mouth, on the tongue and on the muzzle, feet and sometimes on the teats. The responsible virus, foot-and-mouth disease virus (FMDV), is an Aphthovirus belonging to family Picornaviridae. There are seven FMDVs immunologically distinct serotypes (O, A, Asia 1, C, SAT 1, SAT 2 and SAT 3) with multiple subtypes within each serotype.

The disease is endemic in Africa, Middle-East, South-Asia and in Venezuela in South-America. Europe is free of FMD. However, disease-free countries are not immune to incursions of the disease from neighbouring or even distant infected countries. FMD may cause devastating economic losses for the affected country due to high costs for disease control and international trade embargoes.

To face this threat, a global control strategy was initiated in 2009 by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the WOAH, as part of the "Global Framework for the Progressive Control of Transboundary Animal Diseases" signed by the two partners in 2004. This global control strategy against foot-and-mouth disease is regarded as an international priority.