A veterinarian with Iowa State University Extension says the potential for foot-and-mouth disease spreading to the United States is not very high. But, Dr. Nolan Hartwig says producers in Iowa should still review their disease control measures. Foot-and-mouth is a highly contagious viral disease in animals like cattle, sheep, and swine. Two outbreaks have been reported this months in England.
Hartwig says it’s important for the British to get the disease under control, but it doesn’t significantly increase the risk of foot-and-mouth spreading to the U.S. Hartwig says the U.S. has strong regulations to keep foot-and-mouth from spreading here, such as banning imported beef from the countries where it exists. He says the disease has shown up in herds around the world, except in North America, Antarctica, and Australia.
Hartwig says another regulation requires that no foreign visitors to the U.S. can enter a livestock operation in this country within seven days of having contact with livestock or poultry in another country. Foot-and-mouth disease causes blisters on the mouth, tongue, and feet of the affect animals. The infection causes dramatic loss of weight and production. It is not considered a human public health issue.
Hartwig says U.S. producers should maintain a closed herd, and require all visitors to wear clean clothing and footwear.