Foot and mouth disease

Foot and mouth disease, commonly referred to as FMD is a highly infectious disease of livestock that affects production and trade can be controlled and prevented. The diseasewhich is caused by a virus also affects wild animals. It is one of the most economically devastating livestock viral disease in the world because it spreads fast and causes losses in production and markets.

What causes FMD?

FMD virus has 7 types existing worldwide i.e. Type O, A, C, SAT1, SAT3 AND Asia 1. Kenya has been affected by the first 5. The types do not cross-protect against each other during vaccinations.

The virus is inactivated by acid or alkaline hence Magadi Soda is commonly used to reduce the virus in the environment.

FMD can survive in milk and milk products, frozen bone marrow and lymph glands. It can remain active in surfaces for days to weeks and survives drying.

Which animals are affected?

FMD virus primarily affects cloven-hoofed domestic and wild animals such as cattle, sheep, goats, pigs and water buffalo. It can also affect hedgehogs, armadillos, elephants, rats and mice. It does not affect people.

What are the signs?

  • The disease starts with a fever and loss of appetite
  • Followed by smacking of lips, chomping of the mouth and teeth grinding
  • Later appearance of blisters and erosions in the mouth, feet and teats
  • These results in salivation, limping and drastic milk reduction
  • Occasionally death in young ones due to involvement of the heart
  • Secondary bacterial infections complicate recovery

How is it transmitted?

  • Mainly through breathing (airborne)
  • Direct or indirect contact with infected animals
  • Contaminated animal products such as meat, milk, bones and cheese
  • Contact with contaminated objects such as boots, hands, or clothing can also be a source of infection
  • Other sources include artificial insemination, and contaminated biological and hormone preparations
  • Peak transmission occurs when vesicles rupture

What should you do when your animal is affected?

  • Isolate the sick animal from the healthy
  • Report suspected animals to the nearest veterinary office
  • Observe quarantine notices in place
  • Give supportive care and treatment


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