Foot and mouth disease is a severe and highly communicable viral disease that affects cloven hoofed animals. It is one of the serious economically important livestock disease affecting mostly cattle, buffaloes and pigs. The disease is often fatal in exotic and crossbred cattle. It is also called Aphthous Fever and is cause by a virus (Aphtho virus), having 7 major serotypes and many subtypes, which causes significant difficulties in preventing the disease. The infected animals are the major source of infection to the healthy and susceptible animals. The virus is excreted in large quantity in the saliva, urine and milk of infected animals. Any equipment, vehicles, clothing, grass, feed and water etc. contaminated with such excretions and secretions can easily transmit the disease. Infection is mainly spread by respiratory route (airborne), and less commonly by ingestion, conjunctiva or through the semen of infected bulls.
The animals start showing symptoms, generally after two to eight days after acquiring the infection. The clinical signs are high fever (upto 42˚ C) that rapidly declines after two or three days, formation of blisters inside the mouth that lead to excessive secretion of stringy or foamy saliva drooling from mouth. In mouth, vesicles are found on the dorsum of tongue, especially near its anterior part and lateral aspects, on the mucosa of lips, cheeks, dental pad and hard palate. Sometimes vesicles may be found on muzzle and external nares. There is protrusion of tongue, blisters on the feet that may rupture and cause lameness. Other symptoms like drop in milk production, weight loss, loss of appetite and the cows may develop blisters on teats and in males there is swelling of testicles. Though most animals eventually recover from FMD, the disease can lead to myocarditis and death, especially in young animals.
There is no virus-specific treatment for the disease, affected animals recovers with time. First aid treatment under the supervision of veterinary professionals ,such as washing of the mouth and feet with potassium permanganate solution (1gm in 3 lit. of water), followed by application of boro-glycerol in mouth and topical antiseptic spry/cream in the feet and herbal immune stimulatory drugs, can aid in speedy recovery. The disease causes significant economic impact due to loss of productivity in animals. Therefore, all feasible preventive measures should be attempted, e.g. practicing good bio-security measures on uninfected farms to prevent entry of the virus and vaccination at suitable age and interval. Calves should be vaccinated at 1 month of age. A second dose of the vaccine should be given 4-6 weeks after the first dose. Thereafter, the animal should receive the vaccine after every 6 months .The ideal period for vaccination in Assam is, April and October. The vaccine can also be given to pregnant and lactating animals.
To control FMD outbreaks, the movement of animals (particularly cattle, buffalo and pig) from the disease affected area should be restricted. Affected animals should not be allowed open grazing. Infected carcass must be disposed of safely by incineration or deep burial. Mass vaccination of all the susceptible animals should be ensured at the same time in a locality.
Humans can be infected with FMD through direct contact with the infected animals. However, it is extremely rare.
To control this economically devastating disease cooperation with the local administration and veterinary professional is very important. Any incidence of the disease outbreak should immediately be reported to the veterinary professionals. The ongoing All India Coordinated Research Project on FMD, Regional Research Centre, located in the Campus of College of Veterinary Science, Assam Agricultural University, Khanapara can also be contacted for possible assistance and detail epidemiological investigation.
(References are available on request)
3rd Year, B.V.Sc. & A.H.,
Lakhimpur College of Veterinary Science,
Assam Agricultural University, Joyhing, North Lakhimpur, Assam- 787051, India.
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