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Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service
U.S. Department of Agriculture
USDA FAQ's and resources about coronavirus (COVID-19).  LEARN MORE

Foot and Mouth Disease

Foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) is a severe and highly contagious viral disease. The FMD virus causes illness in cows, pigs, sheep, goats, deer, and other animals with divided hooves. It does not affect horses, dogs, or cats.  

FMD is not a public health or food safety threat. It is also not related to hand, foot, and mouth disease, which is a common childhood illness caused by a different virus.

Why is FMD a Concern?

FMD is a worldwide concern as it can spread quickly and cause significant economic losses. While many countries across the globe are dealing with FMD in their livestock populations, the United States eradicated the disease here in 1929. APHIS works hard to prevent FMD from reentering the country.

FMD causes production losses and hardships for farmers and ranchers. It also has serious impacts on livestock trade—a single detection of FMD will likely stop international trade completely for a period of time. Since the disease can spread widely and rapidly and has grave economic consequences, FMD is one of the animal diseases livestock owners dread most.

FMD Basics

FMD is caused by a virus. The virus survives in living tissue and in the breath, saliva, urine, and other excretions of infected animals. It can also survive in contaminated materials and the environment for several months under the right conditions.

There are 7 known types and more than 60 subtypes of the FMD virus. Immunity to one type does not protect an animal against other types or subtypes.

For more basic information on FMD:

How You Can Help

There are many ways you can support our efforts against FMD:

  • Watch for excessive salivation, lameness, and other signs of FMD in your herd.
  • Immediately report any unusual or suspicious signs of disease to your veterinarian, State or Federal animal disease control officials, or your county agricultural agent.
  • When traveling outside the United States, make sure that you do not bring back prohibited animal products or other at-risk materials.
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