Foot and Mouth Disease

Foot and mouth disease (FMD) is a viral disease that can affect cattle, pigs, sheep, goats, deer, and other animals with divided, or split, hooves. It does not affect horses, dogs, or cats, or make people sick. It is also not a food safety concern. In the past FMD was found in U.S. livestock but has been eradicated from North America and not detected in the U.S. since 1929.

Animals that become sick with FMD may display the following:

  • Fever
  • Blisters (vesicles) :
    • on the tongue and lips
    • in and around the mouth
    • on the mammary glands
    • around the hooves
  • Difficulty walking (lameness)
  • Drooling
  • Decreased weight gain
  • Decreased milk production

While animals can recover from FMD, it can lead to the death of young animals. Because FMD also causes a decrease in production livestock, it is a trade-limiting disease. A single detection may completely stop international trade of cattle, swine, sheep, goats, and their products, for a period of time.

FMD cannot be diagnosed just by looking at a sick animal. A laboratory test is needed to confirm a positive case. Any disease causing blisters in livestock, including Seneca Valley Virus and Vesicular Stomatitis Virus, will result in the same signs as FMD. Anyone who sees blisters in their livestock, or any other suspicious signs, should immediately contact a Federal or State Animal Health Official.

FMD virus survives in the tissue, breath, saliva, urine, and other excretions of infected animals. Under the right conditions, FMD virus can survive in contaminated materials and the environment for several months. This is why everyone involved in the livestock industry, from the producer to the feed mill, should practice proper biosecurity every day.

While FMD does not make people sick, it is sometimes confused with Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease, a disease that only infects people and can be common in children. FMD and Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease are completely unrelated and do not cause the same illnesses.


Information for Producers

FMD is highly contagious. The best way to protect your animals is to implement good biosecurity measures on your farm every day and anytime anything moves on or off your farm. Learn more about biosecurity here.

General Resources
Preparedness Resources


Information for Veterinarians

The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship and United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) both classify FMD as a reportable animal disease. Anyone within Iowa who knows of an animal with FMD, that was exposed to FMD, or is displaying clinical signs of FMD is legally required to promptly report it the State Veterinarian.