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FMD Info

Foot-and-Mouth Disease Facts:

Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD) is caused by a fast-spreading virus. All cloven-footed animals are susceptible to the disease. Nearly 100% of the animals in an exposed herd will become ill and young animals may die from the disease.

In Nebraska, these animals would include:

Cattle Bison Llamas
Swine Sheep Goats
Deer and Elk (captive and wild)

What does FMD infection look like?

Blisters (vesicles) may form in the animal's mouth or muzzle, causing slobbering and drooling. Later, the blisters will break, forming raw patches or ulcers.

Blisters and sores also can develop on the animal's teats, causing mastitis in dairy cattle.

Blisters on the feet result in lameness. Affected animals will be reluctant or unable to drink, eat, or walk, and they will lose weight rapidly.

Swine and cattle usually will show signs of disease within two to seven days after being exposed to the virus. Sheep and goats may have only minimal clinical signs of disease after an incubation period of up to 14 days.

How FMD is Spread

Foot-and-Mouth Disease can be transmitted in a variety of ways - the most common being direct contact with an infected animal.

Once infected, animals become "virus factories" capable of spreading high numbers of viral particles to other animals and into the environment.

Infected swine, in particular, can release millions of viral particles when they exhale. The virus can become airborne and can be breathed in by nearby susceptible animals.

Persons who have been around infected animals also are capable of carrying the virus in their nasal passages for as long as 28 hours. While the disease is not considered a threat to humans, it is possible for a person to spread the virus to susceptible animals.

The disease also can be spread when susceptible animals make contact with feed, feeding utensils, vehicles, clothing, or holding facilities contaminated with the virus.

The FMD virus can be carried in raw meat, animal products or milk from FMD-exposed or infected animals. The FMD outbreaks in South Africa were started after waste food, containing raw meat scraps, was collected from international ships and fed to swine.

Economic Impact of FMD

A single case of FMD would have an impact on every segment of the United States' multi-billion dollar animal and animal product export market.
  • Consumers can lose confidence in the safety of meat food products.
  • Prohibitions would be placed on the sale and international shipment of animals and animal products.
  • Eradication costs are very high. All animals exposed to the virus must be destroyed to prevent the spread of disease.
  • Vaccines provide only temporary protection, and re-vaccination is needed at six-month intervals. Vaccine use is limited to outbreaks only. Vaccinated animals must be slaughtered before international trade can be resumed.
  • For at least three months after the eradication of an outbreak - or at least three months after the slaughter of the last vaccinated animal - an affected country is banned from shipping meat or meat products to international rading partners.

Keep FMD Out! Do YOUR Part!!

The United States has regulations in place to prevent the introduction of FMD-infected animals and animal products. But, so did many of the currently affected countries!
  • If you suspect a disease problem, report it immediately to your local veterinarian or regulatory animal health official. In the United Kingdom, the disease may have been present for three weeks prior to detection.
  • FMD spreads rapidly! Early detection and reporting are critical. Do not move animals that may be affected. Stop all visitors from entering your premises if you suspect a problem.

Traveling Abroad? Take Precautions.

  • Avoid contact with animals or areas where animals have been held for at least five days before returning to the United States.
  • Before returning to the U.S., launder or dry clean all clothing, jackets, or coats, especially if you have visited a farm abroad and live, work, or plan to visit a farm in the U.S. Don't risk taking the FMD virus home on contaminated clothing.
  • Remove all dirt or organic material from shoes, luggage, personal items, etc. Wipe the items with disinfectant.
  • Do not bring prohibited products home.
  • Avoid contact with livestock or wildlife for at least five days when you get home.


These products can be used effectively to disinfect for FMD:
  • Sodium hydroxide (lye) solution (2%). Mix a 13-ounce can in 5 gallons water.
  • Sodium carbonate (soda ash) solution (4%). Mix one pound in 3 gallons water.
  • Citric acid 0.2% solution.
  • Acetic acid (vinegar) 2% solution. Mix one gallon vinegar (4%) in one gallon water.
  • Virkon S (Antec International) at a 1:200 dilution.
  • Sodium Hypochlorite (household bleach) Mix three parts bleach, two parts water.

Early Detection is the Best Protection!

Report Suspicious Cases Immediately!

During normal working hours, call the: USDA Veterinary Services at 402-434-2300

After hours, on weekends and holidays, call the: Nebraska Bureau of Animal Industry at 402-471-2351
or USDA Hotline at 800-601-9327

Additional information can be obtained from the: Nebraska Department of Agriculture Public Information Office at 402 471-6856 or USDA Public Information Office at 301 734-8073

Thanks to Texas Animal Health Commission for contributing information in this brochure.

Published by:
Nebraska Department of Agriculture
Animal Health
301 Centennial Mall South
PO Box 94787
Lincoln, NE 68509