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BY: Dr.Tasaduk Hussain Itoo

During recent years, there has been an alarming rise of ‘Foot & Mouth’ Disease among animals in different areas of Kashmir especially affecting the domestic live stock. Numerous cases from my area surfaced as well. So in this regard, the writer after gathering recommendations/information regarding it from some of the veterinary specialists has put the information in the form of Question – Answer script to address this highly contagious disease effectively.


Q:What is Foot & Mouth Disease in general?

A: It is a highly contagious and viral infectious disease in animals characterized by a sudden episode of high-grade fever lasting for two to three days followed by painful blisters in mouth and foot.

Q: What is the virus responsible for this disease?

A:Basically the virus for FMD is a picornavirus of Aptha virus family,highly genetically variable.

Q:What is the incubation period of this virus?

A:The initial mild symptoms may arise early but usually it is 1 to 12 days.

Q:What are the clinical signs and symptoms of this disease?

A:The initial symptoms are mild. But as soon the virus forces its multiplication inside the host cells with subsequent release in the blood, the disease gets its aggressive way causing a high-grade fever which declines rapidly within two to three days followed by blisters in the mouth and foot. Once these blisters rupture, there is drooling of foamy saliva through mouth and a ruptured blister on foot causes lameness leading to a chance of secondary invasion by bacteria. In adult animals, weight loss is a common problem which may eventually last for few months. In newborn and young ones, the virus may invade myocardium causing myocarditis, cardiac arrest and death.

Q: What are the different animals more prone to this disease?

A: The disease may affect both wild and domestic animals especially cattle, sheep, goats, antelope, pet dogs etc.

Q: What are the ways of transmission of this disease?

A:Since the disease is highly contagious, it may transmit by close animal to animal contact, through contaminated farming equipments, motor vehicles, contaminated clothes of farmers dealing with animals, through contaminated aerosols even from a long distance, feed supplements, fodder and fomites etc.

Q: How long does it affects the humans?

A:It rarely affects humans. Humans may get accidental infections through dealing with contaminated animals but very rarely.

Q:How long the meat and milk of an infected animal affects the human consumers?

A:Since the virus is highly sensitive to stomach acid of humans, so it hardly affects. But the main precaution is to boil the milk to higher temperatures and sufficiently cook the meat of an infected animal before consumption.

Q: If a human accidently gets infection, what are the signs and symptoms?

A: Though rare in humans but if infection ensues, the infected individual may present with malaise, fever, vomiting, ulcerative surface-eroding lesions in the mouth, vesicular lesions on skin etc.

Q: How long vaccination is valuable to the disease in animals?

A:Since the virus responsible for FMD causes immunosuppression to a large extent, vaccination is a key to prevention. But as the virus being highly genetically variable, the cross-vaccination usually goes unmarked. There is need of specific vaccines for different genetically variable strains.

Q: What are the precautionary measures to be kept in mind while dealing with infected animals?

A: There is no need to be precautionary while dealing. Use gloves, face masks and other protective wearing if needed.

Q:I have seen people forcefully feeding these diseased animals. How long it is beneficial?

A: Unfortunately it has been a wrong practice on the part of people feeding their cattle forcefully. Though the mortality rate among adult animals suffering from FMD is very rare but most animals die because of this wrong practice as the food that is forcefully fed to these animals usually pave its way to lungs instead of normal food pipe leading to respiratory obstruction and distress, ultimately death.

Q: So what precautionary measures we should follow while feeding these infected animals?

A: Don’t forcefully feed such animals. Whatever food they take on their own, let them. If these animals dont take or eat anything on their own due to painful blisters in their mouth, put them on I.V.line of Dextrose and other electrolytes.

Q: How can we prevent its spread to other animals?

A:Once you suspect an animal with FMD, isolate that one from the rest of animals lying in the same vicinity.

Q:How long the disease is a threat to the economy of the state as a whole?

A:The disease outbreak immensely affects the economy as a whole. As trade restriction, quarantine and occasional livestock killing of the infected animals drastically declines the milk production and meat trade to other nations. A lot of money is lost from farmers dealing with animals. Though humans are rarely affected, but agricultural industry and food industry are severely avulsed at the most.

Q: How to treat such animals?

A: As the main causative agent is a virus, so there is no specific treatment to the disease. The disease eventually recovers within few weeks to few months on their own. But to prevent secondary infections that may harbour due to ruptured blisters, we usually recommend low-dose antibiotics, an anti-septic spray for wound healing, a mouth wash to maintain oro-dental hygiene and sometimes i.v. dextrose infusion and other electrolyte suspensions.


Good bio-security should be practiced at all times, not just during an outbreak. Taking the right measures in the early stages of an outbreak e.g. before we know disease, can help prevent or reduce its spread.


  • Keep everything clean – materials like mud or bedding on clothes, boots equipment or vehicles can carry the virus from farm to farm or between different groups of livestock on the farm. Don’t wear work clothes to sales or shows. Wear clean protective clothing and footwear for use solely on your own farm.
  • vIt is essential that you clean yourself, your vehicle and everything you carry thoroughly when you move between different groups of livestock on the farm avoid visiting other farms unless absolutely necessary.
  • Do inspect animals regularly (at least daily) for signs of disease.Keep different species of livestock separate where possible.
  • Avoid moving animals from one part of the farm to another if possible, particularly between out farms and conacre(land meant for grazing).
  • When handling your animals, be aware that sheep do not always show obvious signs of the disease and you could inadvertently infect other animals. Wash hands after contact with livestock.
  • Make sure you have approved disinfectant and cleaning material ready at your farm entrance, so that essential visitors can disinfect themselves before entering the premises and as they leave.

Prevent any non-essential visits to your farm.

The writer is Resident Medical doctor at Acharya Shri Chander College of Medical Sciences and Hospital Jammu

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