Foot & Mouth

Foot and Mouth Disease


This is a notifiable disease and, therefore, the AVMC does not provide treatment or prevention for FMD, unless special dispensation were to be offered by DEFRA. [N.B.: If/when there is a Foot & Mouth Disease outbreak, the AVMC will have certain restrictions on visits to farm premises, wherever there are cloven-hoofed animals. Check for details pertaining at the time.]

A highly infectious disease of cloven-hoofed species, e.g. cattle, sheep, pigs, goats, camelids (llamas, alpacas etc.), buffalo, reindeer and deer. Affected sheep are less easy to spot. The UK still has a policy of slaughter, rather than vaccination, for control of outbreaks. In 2001, this was a disaster for the countryside, for farming and for welfare and decency. In the much more localised (self-inflicted*) outbreaks of 2007, the slaughter policy easily confined and controlled the outbreaks.

We at the AVMC have repeatedly offered to DEFRA (and MAFF before it), at our own expense, help with clinical research and treatment of Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD), using homeopathy/homeoprophylaxis. A clinical trial would very rapidly show whether homeopathy could be effective. If effective, homeopathy would annihilate the disadvantages of both slaughter and vaccination policies. It would also be incredibly cheap and easy to administer. As yet, polite acknowledgement in 2007 (and complete cold shoulder in 2001) is the only response we have received.

I was planning to write up the disease and the history of the infamous 2001 outbreak, at some point soon. However, the affairs of August 2007 took over, temporarily. Happily, that outbreak now appears to be over, as of the end of August. Apparently, controls were relaxed too soon (hindsight is a marvellous thing) and we underwent a new outbreak, with renewed controls, in September 2007. That secondary outbreak was successfully contained and now appears to be over, and restrictions have been relaxed again (December 2007).

Clinical signs of Foot and Mouth Disease

How to detect signs of Foot and Mouth in cattle, sheep and pigs.

Signs of Foot and Mouth in Cattle

  • Slobbering and smacking lips.
  • Shivering
  • Tender and sore feet
  • Reduced milk yield
  • Sores and blisters on feet
  • Raised temperature

Signs of Foot and Mouth in Sheep

  • Sudden, severe lameness
  • Lies down frequently and is very unwilling to rise
  • When made to rise stands in a half-crouching position, with hind legs brought well forward, reluctant to move
  • Blisters may be found on the hoof where the horn joins the skin which may extend all round the coronet and in the cleft of the foot. When they burst the horn is separated from the tissues underneath, and hair round the hoof may appear damp
  • the dental pad and sometimes the tongue

Signs of Foot and Mouth in Pigs

  • Sudden lameness
  • Prefers to lie down
  • When made to move squeals loudly and hobbles painfully
  • Blisters form on the upper edge of the hoof, where the skin and horn meet, and on the heels and in the cleft
  • May extend right round the top of the hoof with the result that the horn becomes separated
  • Blisters may develop on the snout or on the tongue

It is important to remember that Swine Vesicular Disease has identical symptoms to foot-and-mouth disease. Therefore anyone who sees blisters in pigs must report the sighting as suspected foot-and-mouth disease until laboratory tests prove otherwise.

A slaughterman's horrors of 2001 recalled:

* A bio-security leak at Pirbright laboratories was the source of the outbreak.

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