Foot and Mouth Disease Biosecurity Information

Subscribe to our free E-Newsletter, "Agri-News" (formerly RTW This Week)Agri-News
This Week
 Information for producers | Biosecurity information for agricultural sector travelers | Brochures, posters and links

Information for Producers

Click here to download this brochure (file size 556 KB)

Foot and Mouth Disease
Foot and mouth disease (FMD) is a highly contagious and sometimes fatal viral disease of cloven-hoofed animals, including domestic animals such as cattle, sheep, goats and pigs, as well as antelope, bison, elk and deer. The llama and alpaca may develop mild symptoms, but are resistant to the disease and will not pass it on to others of the same species.

The incubation period for the FMD virus in susceptible animals can range from two to eight days, but can be up to twenty-one days post infection with the virus. Infected animals can spread the virus one to two days prior to the onset of clinical signs and for seven to ten days after the presentation of clinical signs.

Signs and symptoms
Signs and symptoms will differ slightly per species. Some of the symptoms noted can easily be mistaken for other diseases in a species, so it is important to contact your veterinarian immediately.

Signs of Foot and Mouth in cattle

  • Sores, vesicles followed by ulcers and blisters on feet, nose, lips, mouth and udder
  • Excessive salivation with drooling of saliva from the mouth and smacking of lips
  • Shivering
  • Tender and sore feet with vesicles and ulcers on the coronary band
  • Animals not willing to walk due to pain on their feet
  • Fever and off feed
  • Cows can develop vesicles or lesions on their teats
  • Reduced milk yield secondary to mastitis
  • Bulls can develop vesicles and blisters on scrotum
  • Overall loss of body condition and occasional abortions in affected cows
Signs of Foot and Mouth in pigs
  • Blisters may develop on the snout or on the tongue
  • Blisters for on the upper edge of the hoof, where the skin and horn meet, and on the heels and in the cleft
  • Sudden lameness
  • Prefers to lie down
  • The pig is reluctant to move and squeals in pain and hobbles around
  • Decreased feed consumption
It is important to remember that other swine diseases have lesions identical to foot and mouth disease and therefore anyone who sees blisters in pigs must report the sighting to their veterinarian to pursue further testing for suspected foot and mouth disease.

Signs of Foot and Mouth in sheep

  • Sores and blisters on feet, nose, lips and in the mouth around the dental pad and on the tongue
  • Sudden onset of lameness in multiple animals with varying degree of severity of lameness
  • Blisters will be found on the foot where the hoof joins the skin which may extend all round the coronet and in the cleft of the foot. When these blisters burst, extensive ulcers may result and may lead to separation of horn from the tissues underneath. Hair round the hoof may appear damp.

Detecting the disease in sheep
The disease can be difficult to recognize in sheep as sometimes as little as five percent of animals in infected flocks show any signs. Look for the following signs:
  • Sudden death in lambs. In several recent confirmed outbreaks, the most obvious sign was apparently healthy lambs dropping dead
  • Abortions
  • Lameness (this may only last for a short time)
  • Listless and off their food

Biosecurity measures
Normal production practices should always include basic biosecurity measures geared to minimize the introduction and spread of all infections animal diseases, including:
  • restrict visitor access to animals, especially visitors from overseas
  • where possible, limit contact between domestic and wild animals
  • routinely clean and disinfect footwear, clothing and equipment
  • record movement of people, animals and equipment on and off farms and ranches
  • purchase animal replacements, feed and supplies from reputable suppliers
  • isolate new animals and replacement for at least 14 days before introducing them into the herd
  • anyone leaving a farm to attend another farm or an event where livestock are present should ensure their footwear and clothing has been properly cleaned and disinfected prior to departure and prior to returning home
  • ensure all staff are familiar with principles of biosecurity and protocols in place

Why is biosecurity important?
The appearance of FMD on Canadian soil would immediately shut down entire segments of our livestock industry. The economic and societal impact of FMD on a trading nation is devastating; disease control costs can be astronomical and recovery from outbreaks prolonged. The disease is reportable federally and provincially. Early detection to facilitate rapid response and recovery is important to mitigate the impact.

If you have any concerns about animals on your farm, please contact your local veterinarian, and/or the regional Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) office or Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development (ARD) office. Do not ask a neighbour or other producer to assist you in checking your animals.

For more information
Animal Health Branch/Office of the Chief Provincial Veterinarian
Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development
Phone: 780-644-2148
Fax: 780-415-0810

Biosecurity Information for Agricultural Sector Travelers

Click here to download this brochure (file size 522 KB)

The threat of Foot and Mouth (FMD) in some African countries, South Korea, Japan, mainland China and Vietnam remains. Farms and ranches hosting visitors from countries affected with FMD or perhaps planning travel to affected countries need to be especially vigilant about biosecurity.

FMD is a highly contagious disease of cloven-hoofed animals. Cattle, swine, sheep, goats and members of the deer family can all be affected or carry the disease with minimal clinical signs. People in contact with livestock or wildlife in countries with FMD who may subsequently be in contact with livestock on farms and ranches in Canada must be particularly careful.

The virus is spread to healthy livestock through

  • direct or indirect contact with infected animals. Fluid and scabs from FMD lesions (blisters) are highly contaminated with virus. Virus is also spread in blood, saliva, milk or manure
  • food products (e.g. meats, cheeses, etc) that have not been properly prepared can be a source of infection
  • contact with surfaces contaminated with FMD virus, for example; trucks, loading ramps and even roads
  • feed made with ingredients derived from infected animals, or feed that has come into contact with infected animals
  • contact with footwear, clothing or equipment contaminated with FMD virus. Under the right conditions, FMD may survive for weeks on soiled clothes and shoes
  • contact with the airborne virus. Under favourable climatic conditions, air-currents will carry FMD virus long distances downwind from infected farms

Important information for travelers
Special precautions are being taken at points of entry fro residents returning to Canada after international travel and for visitors from countries affected with FMD. Visitors must inform Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) officers if visits to Canadian farms, shows or exhibitions where livestock are kept, are part of their plans. Travelers entering Canada are also required to declare all food, plants, animals and animal products. Animal products originating from FMD countries may be prohibited. Fresh and prepared meat products, embryos, semen, milk, hair, leather good and skins from susceptible species can potentially carry FMD unless processed in a way to destroy the virus.

Travelers should ensure all clothing and footwear worn during visits aboard are free from soil or manure. Clothes should be dry-cleaned and, if dry-cleaning is not an option, they can be thoroughly washed and dried at high temperatures. Footwear should be cleaned and disinfected before visiting any farm, zoo or park. Ideally footwear worn in other countries should not be worn around livestock, zoos and wildlife.

A general recommendation is to avoid contact with farm animals, zoos or wildlife for a period of seven to 14 days after returning to Canada.

Although domestic pets are not susceptible to FMD, CFIA recommends taking precautions for pets travelling from a FMD infected country. On return to Canada, pets should be thoroughly shampooed to eliminate any virus clinging to their coats.

Brochures, Posters and Links

Foot and Mouth Disease - Information for Producers - brochure (file size 556 KB)
Foot and Mouth Disease - Biosecurity Information for Agricultural Sector Travelers - brochure (file size 522 KKB)
Foot and Mouth Disease poster - 11 x 17 (file size 554 KB)
Biosecurity in Alberta website
Office of the Chief Provincial Veterinarian
Canadian Food Inspection Agency

Share via
For more information about the content of this document, contact Hernan Ortegon.
This document is maintained by Sandra Clarke.
This information published to the web on September 15, 2010.
Last Reviewed/Revised on May 22, 2015.