Foot-and-mouth disease

Foot-and-mouth disease may affect pigs and cattle. In Denmark, we have had no outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease since 1983. Strict Danish hygiene requirements with cleaning and disinfection of lorries are probably one major reason for this.

Foot-and-mouth disease is a virus infection that can affect all hoofed animals, including pigs and cattle. With the exception of the European parts of Russia and Turkey, Europe has been free from foot-and-mouth disease in recent years. The latest outbreak in Denmark of foot-and-mouth disease was in 1983. Africa, Asia and South America are the areas where foot-and-mouth disease is most widespread.

What is done in Denmark to reduce the risk of infection?
In order to reduce the risk of infection, Denmark has introduced strict hygiene requirements with cleaning and disinfection of lorries that have transported animals abroad and are entering Denmark. In addition, food waste from kitchens must not be used as pig feed.

The symptoms of foot-and-mouth disease are sores and blisters in the mouth, on the snout/muzzle and at the edges of the hooves. The animals often drool and have difficulty eating. The mortality is low, except in young animals, but the productivity is affected (reduced) considerably.

Literature mentions examples of people becoming infected but this has most likely been a matter of simultaneous occurrence of hand foot and mouth syndrome, a viral infection in humans where the symptoms can be similar to foot-and-mouth disease.

Foot-and-mouth disease is transmitted through contact with infected animals. The virus can survive for a long time in the environment, and tools, vehicles and other equipment may also transmit the disease. Airborne transmission of foot-and-mouth disease can travel for several kilometres. In addition, the virus can survive in food but it dies in matured meet where the pH value falls to below 6. There are examples of infection having been transmitted through feeding with food waste.

Outbreaks of foot-and-mouth disease will automatically mean a stop to the export of meat and live animals. The loss for the Danish agricultural sector and the Danish society at an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease will amount to several billion Danish kroner.

Read more:

The Danish Veterinary and Food Administration
The World Organisation for Animal Health