Foot and mouth disease

What is it?

Foot and mouth disease (FMD) is an acute, highly contagious viral disease affecting cattle, sheep, goats, pigs and buffalo.

How is it characterised?

The disease is characterised by the formation of vesicles (fluid-filled blisters) and erosions in the mouth and nostrils, on the teats, and on the skin between and above the hoofs. The various ways FMD virus is spread and the high level of contagiousness make it one of the most feared animal diseases.

How is it spread?

FMD is spread primarily through animal movement. Australia has strict quarantine requirements to reduce the risk of FMD becoming established. Should the disease gain a foothold, the National Livestock Identification System (NLIS) will play a key role in limiting the spread through the rapid tracing of animal movements.

Where is it found?

FMD is endemic in many parts of the world. It does not occur in Australia.

What is the potential cost to Australia?

FMD causes serious production losses and is a major barrier to international trade in livestock and livestock products. FMD has the potential to cost Australia $16 billion.

How is it treated?

For an FMD outbreak the response would focus on stopping the spread of infection, quarantine and strategic vaccination using strain specific vaccines.

How do I report it?

Early diagnosis is the key to controlling FMD. If you suspect FMD, you should immediately call the Emergency Animal Disease Hotline on 1800 675 888.

More information

For more information, visit the FMD factsheet.