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On the alert for FMD in Australia

FMD is endemic parts of Africa, the Middle East and Asia. In May 2022 cases were confirmed in four Indonesian provinces. The Australian Government and animal health providers are on alert to enable a swift and effective response.

cow with FMD lesions on upper gum about 2-3 days old

Above: Lesions on upper gum about 2-3 days old (source: CSIRO EAD Field Guide).

Map of FMD outbreaks in Asia between January 2020 and December 2023

Above: FMD outbreaks in Asia between 2020 and 2023 (map created at Empres-i (fao.org)) .

Foot-and-mouth disease is a highly contagious virus (family Picornaviridae, genus Aphthovirus) that can infect all cloven-hoofed animals. There is no FMD in Australia and an outbreak would be very costly.

Pigs are regarded as important amplifying hosts for the disease because of their capacity to shed large quantities of virus in their breath, cattle are seen as indicator hosts because of their susceptibility to infection, and sheep and goats are considered silent hosts because infection can spread through flocks with limited clinical disease.

Drooling and vesicles and ulcers in the mouth, feet or teats are well-known clinical signs. Other signs include lameness, pyrexia, abortion, drop in milk production, and sudden death in young animals.

The incubation period for clinical signs is typically 2-5 days (range 1 to 14 days) and varies with virus strain, exposure dose, route of entry and animal species infected. The CSIRO EAD Field Guide describes the changing appearance of lesions in cattle and pigs age over 7 days, as well as providing contemporary information on epidemiology, sampling and differential diagnoses.

If you suspect FMD phone the Emergency Animal Disease Watch Hotline 1800 675 888. Early detection is critical to containment of this disease.

cow with FMD lesions on upper gum about 4-5 days old

Above: Lesions about 4-5 days old (EAD Field Guide).

cow with FMD lesions on upper gum about 8-10 days old

Above: Lesions about 8-10 days old (WA DPIRD).

fresh vesicles on a pig with blanched epithelium at the base of the snout

Above: Fresh vesicles with blanched epithelium at the base of the snout (EAD Field Guide).

coronary band lesions on the feet of a pig

Above: Coronary band lesions on pig (EAD Field Guide).