Foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) is a serious animal disease that only affects animals with cloven (divided) hooves, such as cattle, swine, sheep, goats and deer. Humans and other animals without cloven hooves are not susceptible. FMD is not related to Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease (HFMD), a common childhood illness, nor is it the same as bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), commonly known as “mad cow disease.” It is not a public health or food safety concern.
FMD is highly contagious among susceptible animals, there is a possibility of nearly 100 percent of exposed animals ultimately becoming infected. An FMD outbreak could have significant economic consequences that could reach billions of dollars and affect many sectors of the U.S. economy beyond agriculture. The most serious economic effects would result from large-scale losses of livestock and severe restrictions of agricultural exports. Consumers would experience increased food prices and potential limitations on travel due to restrictions on affected areas.
FMD is currently present in more than 100 countries on the continents of Africa, South America, Asia, the Middle East and some parts of Europe. However, North America is considered free of FMD along with Central America, Australia, New Zealand, Chile and many European countries.
According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization, FMD is not a threat to public health or food safety and does not affect the safety of meat sold in supermarkets and restaurants.
No, dogs and cats cannot become infected with FMD; however, they are capable of spreading the disease.
The FMD virus can be killed with heat, low humidity or some disinfectants. To control the spread of the disease, infected animals must be quarantined and often depopulated. Additionally, all traffic around the perimeter of the farm must be stopped.
Farmers and ranchers are committed to caring for their animals and protecting the security and well-being of animal herds is their top priority. Farmers and ranchers follow industry-wide, science-based animal care guidelines already in place. While FMD does not typically kill the animal, it inhibits their ability to eat in the short-term and permanently affects their health, productivity and overall well-being. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) may determine in some cases that the quickest, most-effective way to prevent more animals from getting sick is to humanely euthanize and properly dispose of livestock in targeted areas.
The USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) vigilantly and continuously monitors for FMD in the United States and worldwide. APHIS also works with U.S. Customs and Border Protection to screen for products that could carry the FMD virus at U.S. ports of entry. Whenever an FMD outbreak occurs elsewhere in the world, the USDA prohibits the importation of susceptible animals and animal products from FMD-affected countries. For more information about how APHIS protects the United States from FMD, see the USDA-APHIS fact sheet "Protecting America from Foot-and-Mouth Disease and other High-Consequence Livestock Diseases.”
USDA prohibits travelers from carrying any agricultural products that could spread FMD and other harmful agricultural pests and diseases into the United States. Passengers must declare all food items and other material of plant or animal origin in their possession. They also must report visits to farms or other livestock facilities. Individuals traveling from European Union countries or other countries considered to be FMD-affected must have their shoes disinfected if they have visited farms or other high-risk areas.
All international travelers must state on their customs declaration form whether or not they have been on a farm or in contact with livestock and if they are bringing any meat products from their travels back with them. APHIS officials will inspect the baggage of all travelers who indicate they have been on a farm or in contact with livestock. Any soiled footwear must be disinfected with detergent and bleach. If travelers have been around livestock in an affected country and they have livestock at home in the United States, they should avoid contact with their animals for five days after returning. In addition, soiled clothing must be washed and disinfected prior to returning to the United States.
Any animal products from cattle, swine, sheep, goats, deer and other cloven-hoofed animals will be confiscated upon return to the United States. Hard cheeses and canned products with a shelf life are exceptions and allowed to enter the country.
Farmers support U.S. efforts against FMD by closely monitoring their herd for excessive salivating, lameness and other signs of FMD. Farmers immediately report any symptoms to their veterinarian, state or federal animal disease control officials or their county agricultural agent.

Additional Information

More information about FMD is available through the 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.