What is being done to prevent FMD from entering the U.S.?

The U.S. has been FMD-free since 1929. Though FMD is not a threat to food safety of human health, it is important to prevent FMD from entering and spreading in the U.S. because it can negatively impact the food supply and economic viability of U.S. farmers and ranchers.  Though other countries around the world continue to have cases of Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD), the U.S. has implemented stringent protocols like monitoring herds and regulating imports to keep our animals safe and healthy.  The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and other government agencies work to prevent FMD from entering the United States. One example of this is requiring that travelers declare the items they bring into the country, as well as preventing importation of certain items, such as raw meats and certain cheeses. 

Detection

Suspicious signs of FMD or any foreign animal disease must be immediately reported to state veterinarians, federal animal disease control officials, or county agricultural agents. Prompt reporting of FMD symptoms enables agencies to conduct an investigation, obtain a diagnosis, and contain an outbreak before it spreads. When a potential case of FMD is reported, an investigation of the affected herd begins immediately.

Testing 

Within APHIS, the Foreign Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory (FADDL) conducts foreign animal disease tests. If a suspected case of FMD is reported, APHIS will work with the animal health officials in the state where the report originated to send out foreign animal disease diagnosticians to the location. The USDA conducts an average of 400 to 500 foreign animal disease investigations every year, including tests for FMD. No cases of FMD have been discovered in the United States since 1929.

Ongoing Surveillance 

The USDA conducts hundreds of field inquiries each year in an effort to detect potential signs of FMD or any foreign animal diseases. To protect U.S. livestock from foreign diseases, federal officials conduct screenings of passengers, luggage, cargo, and packages at ports of entry and airports, and prohibit certain agricultural products from entering the country. On a global scale, USDA International Services officials are stationed around the world to monitor and coordinate with foreign governments on animal health issues. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Find out more by exploring the questions below.

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. It is safe to consume meat and milk. 
FMD is not generally fatal to animals, but it does spread quickly and causes serious illness among cattle, pigs and other cloven (or divided) hooved animals. The first signs of FMD include fever, lethargy, loss of appetite and painful blisters on the feet and mouth. Though these blisters can heal, they can lead to secondary infections, such as foot infections or mastitis, which can be very painful for animals and can take a long time to heal. 
Preventing FMD from entering the U.S. is important to uphold a vital part of the national economy. Annually, the beef industry contributes $167 billion in gross sales to the national economy, along with thousands of jobs. These significant economic contributions would not be possible if animals were needlessly suffering and unable to produce at their normal rate. 
The potential cost of an FMD outbreak in the United States has been estimated to exceed $50 billion, according to a 2012 study. According to a 2011 study from Iowa State University’s Center for Agricultural and Rural Development, an uncontrolled FMD outbreak in the U.S. could cause economic losses of approximately $200 billion spread over 10 years.  
Depending on the severity of the FMD outbreak, agriculture industry losses could be enormous and spread well beyond the, sheep, pork and beef sectors. Revenues would likely fall significantly for poultry, corn and soybean producers and employment in rural areas would be negatively impacted as the U.S. beef sector was forced to downsize.