The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) work diligently to control the factors that could lead to a foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) outbreak among U.S. livestock. There are strict regulations and inspections that occur to prevent disease introduction into the U.S. Our surveillance process is broken into 4 steps: 

Detection

Suspicious signs of FMD or any foreign animal disease (FAD) 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.

Coordinated Response 

If test results confirm the presence of FMD, APHIS will work with state animal health officials to immediately investigate the source and trace all animals that may have come into contact with infected animals.

The state animal health officials provide updates to state and federal agencies on the investigation and may initiate emergency response efforts, if necessary. APHIS emergency response efforts include ensuring the biosecurity of the affected operation and establishing and maintaining animal and animal product movement quarantines to contain the disease and protect other animals. APHIS also alerts officials in neighboring states. The APHIS Emergency Operations Center can be activated to begin coordinating with federal, state and local officials on communication and disease eradication efforts.

The livestock industry would also work closely with the USDA to provide regular updates to consumers and best practices to unaffected producers to help protect their livestock from infection.  

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.