What is FMD?
Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD) is a viral disease that affects animals with cloven (or divided) hooves, such as cattle, swine, sheep, goats and deer.
According to the USDA, FDA, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO), FMD is not a threat to food safety or human health. That’s because FMD only affects animals with cloven (or divided) hooves, like beef cattle, sheep, deer, goats and pigs. FMD does not affect dogs, cats, birds or humans.
The U.S. has been FMD-free since 1929, thanks to stringent protocols like monitoring herds and regulating imports. It’s important to prevent FMD from entering and spreading in the U.S. because it can negatively impact the food supply.
FMD is not generally fatal to animals, but it does spread quickly and causes serious illness among cattle. The first signs of FMD include fever, lethargy, loss of appetite and painful blisters on the feet and mouth. It can impact the food supply, not because the meat is unsafe, but rather because animals who are ill cannot produce as much meat or milk as healthy animals. If an FMD outbreak reduced the amount of meat and milk that’s produced, you might pay more for these products at grocery stores and restaurants. This could also lead to severe economic losses for cattle ranchers and farmers, and more broadly, the agriculture industry and the United States as a whole. For example, the beef industry contributes $167 billion in sales to the national economy, every year. These significant economic contributions would not be possible if animals were needlessly suffering and unable to produce at their normal rate.
Though the names are similar, FMD is not the same as Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease (HFMD), a common childhood illness caused by a very different virus.
Want to learn more?
Explore the topics below.
Monitoring & Prevention
The U.S. has been FMD-free since 1929 thanks to the implementation of stringent protocols like monitoring herds and regulating imports to keep our animals safe and healthy.
According to the USDA, FDA, CDC and World Health Organization (WHO), FMD is not a threat to food safety or human health.
Farmers and ranchers follow industry-wide, science-based animal care guidelines and work together with veterinarians to ensure top-notch healthcare for their herds.
More information about FMD is available through the USDA APHIS website, which has an overview on FMD, an emergency response plan for FMD and other foreign animal diseases, and a factsheet on how APHIS is protecting America from FMD.