FMD is a very intense viral ailment of the cattle, caused by bacteria. This consists of cows, sheep, pigs and goats, all of which are cloven-hoofed animals. As the animals can catch the virus through “direct or indirect contact with an infected animal” (Gov, 2014), this virus additionally has the ability to stay feasible in animal products, water, straw and bedding, and can continue to be practical for a long period. Due to this, FMD can unfurl while vulnerable animals are kept in contaminated areas, vehicles which are utilized to move the farm animals, vehicles that enter infected sites, contact with infected hardware, contact with people wearing infected clothing, exposed to drinking infected water and semen. Therefore, depending on their mating seasons, this can also determine how quickly FMD can spread and often left with lethal consequences.Detecting FMD on the animals are very similar in some cases, however, there are some slight differences. Swine can be considered the quickest and easiest species to detect the virus and is usually noticeable after twenty-four hours.
The first signs and indications are of the animal becoming hesitant to move, this is due to lesions on their feet, making them lame. When blisters form beneath the pig’s feet and eventually rupture, the disease develops and the animal, therefore, is more inclined to lie down and refuse to move entirely. Some lesions may also be found on the pig’s snout.The first symptoms of FMD in cattle can be noticed by high fevers and excessive salivation and drool, which is caused by oral lesions. As the disease persists, the lesions may develop on the tongue, gums and lips and become infected, therefore it is likely to cause the animal to stop eating and lose a lot of weight. As the virus continues to grow, it can also cause mild lameness.
The symptoms of foot and mouth disease in sheep and goats are not as obvious. Due to this, it can be harder to detect and are most likely the bigger threat, if they are not monitored properly. However, the first signs are again weakness and fewer lesions which may be recognized in the oral cavity and identified beneath the feet.Even after recuperation from the initial ailment, the productivity does not return to normal and premature births and other losses can occur for an unspecified period. This raises a concern on the health of piglets, calves and lambs and may be endangered by lack of milk from the infected mother, contact with infected teats, or ingesting infected milk. If the young are infected with the FMD virus, it can be considered that death may easily occur, as their bodies are not strong enough to withstand the pain and discomfort of the symptoms.FMD can be said not to be so easy to detect, and can easily be confused with other diseases, which pose similar symptoms such as Foot Rot Disease.
This disease rots away at the foot of the animal, also causing lameness and loss of appetite. The only way to determine if the clinical signs are caused by the FMD virus is to take samples of virus detection for laboratory testing. “Laboratory diagnosis is necessary to confirm or exclude a clinical suspicion of FMD.” (NSW, 2015), thus, if blisters occur on the mouth or feet, or other typical disease signs are shown in the owner’s animals, it is highly required that the farmer reports them immediately so that the appropriate testing can begin.Due to the disease being known to only infect cloven-hoofed animals and humans can carry the disease, this raises speculation that other animals can also carry the infection. GOV advises farmers to keep their cattle from “contact with animals that cannot develop the disease, but can transmit infectious material – for example, dogs, cats, poultry and foxes” (Gov, 2012).
In this case, farmers are commonly known to have cats and dogs of their own, which, therefore, poses a big threat. So, when we consider another species that associate closely with livestock, one can assume that even small insects such as flies, could have some role in spreading the infection. As flies land on all types of grounds, animals and also attracted to faeces, they could therefore easily pass the infection to other land and animals.It has been said that inhalation, is also known to be a possible route of the spread. In some cases, some suggested that the virus is airborne, and spreads through wind direction and even rain “Virus particles may be carried in raindrops which are released when they splash on the ground or solid objects”. (Muldoon, p. 176). Therefore, depending on the wind and weather conditions and the number of large groups of infected animals which cause high concentrations, particularly pigs who “play a major role in the spread of FMD by producing large, infectious aerosols of the virus” (https://vetmed.
iastate.edu/vdpam/FSVD/swine/index-diseases/foot-mouth-disease, no date). Thus, the FMD virus could travel several miles over land and over water.
Which demonstrates again how quickly the virus can escalate if not controlled. However, this could be avoided by lowering the number of animals kept together. So, when we compare our weather to countries such as Africa, who are also known to have cases of FMD, due to their dry climate and lower stocking rates, for the disease to spread through the air would, therefore, be rare. As wildlife is a very important aspect of Africa, this would be to their advantage, preventing other wildlife from spreading the infection.Although FMD is classified as a zoonosis, which is a disease transferable to humans, there is no major concern for our well-being as the disease does not have human health significance, “man can be infected but only rarely” (Muldoon, p. 176). However, there have been some cases which believed that humans can catch the virus through drinking milk from infected animals, “You can catch foot and mouth by drinking infected milk but not by eating infected meat” (Jeffrey, 2001) or “through skin wounds or by handling diseased stock” (Jeffrey, 2001). This can be said to occur due to poor hygiene and lack of monitoring on livestock and could easily be avoided by improving on hygiene when handling carcasses and by wearing protective gloves and so on.
There is a human disease called ‘Hand Foot and Mouth’, which can be said to panic people, because of its similarity in names. This is only because the visible symptoms are very similar, such as the lesions and sores that appear in the same areas as found on an animal. However, foot and mouth disease should not be confused with the human disease.
“Hand, foot and mouth disease has nothing to do with foot and mouth disease that affects farm animals” (NHS, 2018).According to NADIS (National Animal Disease Information Service), “There is no specific treatment for FMD” (http://www.nadis.org.uk/bulletins/foot-and-mouth-disease.aspx, no date). However, farm owners are advised to observe their livestock and cattle and urged on cleansing and disinfection of affected premises, equipment and vehicles.
When vesicles start to occur in the mouth, legs and hoofs, it should be treated to prevent the infection spreading, and to help them recover. This is done by cleansing methods in a restricted area. However, this is just prevention precaution against other animals.There are vaccines that only help manage an FMD outbreak by reducing how much and how fast the virus spreads. Thus the vaccine can help to slow the spread of the disease when given to healthy animals that either live near infected animals or are at risk of exposure to the virus.
However, vaccines are not a replacement for slaughtering animals because it does not work straight away, therefore vaccinated animals can still spread the virus. For this reason, all susceptible animals on properties with FMD would still need to be slaughtered to eradicate the disease. Placing animals under isolation is another approach used to help prevent the infection from spreading. The contaminated and in contact animals within the tainted zone, have to be isolated from surrounding animals. The animals within the contaminated zone, are then vaccinated against the appropriate virus type as soon as possible, to guarantee that all animals become resistant, within a short space of time.The animals left in the free zone or near to the stock free area are then also placed under quarantine and vaccinated.According to OIE (The World Organisation for Animal Health), there are seven types of the virus overall (A, O, C, SAT1, SAT2, SAT3, Asia1), but immunity to one type, does not protect an animal against the others, “each one requiring a specific vaccine strain to provide immunity” (OIE, 2013). Therefore determining the correct type is very imperative, in order to help the animal before it is too late or to help save an animal which may have recovered from the ailment.
If the premises believe to slaughter the host animals, a Veterinary Inspector would have to first make sure the animal meets the criteria and “provide evidence if he believed the animals should be exempted” (GOV, 2011). Killing the affected animals can be seen as an easier option to simply dispose of the host, and the slaughter policy is used because the government’s main goal is to eliminate the disease as soon as possible, supposedly to reduce economic loss. As most of the animals are left very weak and lame, their productive state after recovery may diminish, and so they are usually culled. Nevertheless, it can be seen that since the illness causes serious torment and pain to the animals, it would, therefore, be unfair and inhumane to keep the creature alive.
Alternatively, the amount of time and money spent trying to fend off FMD would prove more useful to instead find effective and accurate treatment for each disease types.In terms of other current measures of preventing an outbreak, as well as strict cleansing rules, if the virus is detected in the animals, farmers should not leave the premises until authorization is granted. They should also avoid other animals from leaving and entering the premises.
However, some would argue that these approaches are not enough.When we compare our FMD control with other countries, one that stands out with no history of FMD is New Zealand. As FMD is a mandatory slaughter to help prevent the disease from spreading further in Britain, New Zealand has strict border controls, which the chances of FMD or any other animal disease entering the country are extremely low. This procedure can be seen as the most effective method in terms of protection, allowing every traveller and imported goods be assessed thoroughly before entry. It can be argued that due to this method, New Zealand has never had an FMD outbreak.
A British farmer named Philip Heard said that “There are so many people coming through on planes from around the world today and they can carry diseases in on their feet. We should have better biosecurity in airports” (Bates, 2016).Although it can be said that New Zealand would be more prone to viruses and illnesses, due to their lack of encounters with diseases through border control. The antibodies to combat such symptoms of these different types of diseases would result in many livestock and if transferable, humans, coming down seriously ill or even result in death, depending on how dangerous the virus is.There is a collision of losses due to lower production and the losses caused FMD control costs. Economically advanced countries that have erased FMD, can be said to receive continuous costs of preserving readiness, as numerous countries have decreased the impact of FMD with vaccinations. Then for more economically deprived countries, it can be said that they face a continuous loss, as they would have limited use of advanced technologies to help trace the infection, which can result to greatly affect their livestock reproduction and development. Additionally, if they were restricted to get to markets due to FMD, it would undoubtedly decrease their income when it comes to trading animals and their items.
Back in 2001 when the FMD outbreak occurred in the UK, Government’s Rural Task Force Minister Michael Meacher’s main attention was to limit the financial harm from tourists attractions.”Tourists would spend up to £3.8bn without the no entry sights, with FMD, tourists would spend 2.8bn, which is a loss of £50m a day”, (Sky News, 2001). According to Robert Uhlig, a farming correspondent, said that the animal loss during the UK outbreak, “could be as high as 10 million – more than twice as high as official Government figures” (Uhlig, 2002). As a result, there would have been large amounts of compensation given to the farmers for their slaughter as well.While FMD poses as no threat to humans, the financial consequences of an outbreak today could, therefore, be catastrophic.
As foot and mouth disease affects the health of animals, it would, therefore, affect the meat trades and milk production as well. If another outbreak were to occur, tourist financial loss would be an even greater figure, as the UK has developed a lot more since the first outbreak, seventeen years ago.When we consider alternative methods to control the disease, it is important to appreciate that individuals with a lack of professionalism, no knowledge of FMD, performing no quality surveillance and effective control, it would be impossible to have the disease maintained.
From another perspective, farmers should not only take control of their livestock but of their own pets, only allow visitors only if absolutely necessary and could even provide a visitor log book, to ensure that all visitors sign in and out, making note of their previous livestock contacts etc. If the owner at all suspects that they have recently arrived from a place or country affected by the disease, entry should be prohibited. On top of that, all farmers and other animal labourers must all be completely prepared on how to distinguish the clinical signs of the infection, what critical action should take place and how and where to look for help for when they think there is a chance their animal has FMD. Arguably for this to be accomplished, extreme preparation and training must be given and then often tested, to make sure they are constantly reminded of the infection. After all, farmers are the ones who see their animals on a daily basis and are therefore responsible for their care, wariness of animal diseases and their own professional behaviour. Not only would stockland owners be helping prevent FMD from getting out of control, it will also help to reduce the time and money spent to clear it. Whilst farmers carry out these rules, it can be argued that if we also focused on our border control, and took extra precaution on who enters our country, we could be keeping FMD out of our country entirely and not just keeping it under control.
Overall, FMD can affect countries in many different ways, and when we consider these different impacts, it should all be taken into great consideration when planning disease control. On a positive note, since the FMD outbreak, we as a nation have grown economically, become a lot more knowledgeable, technologically advanced and more aware of diseases and how to avoid them. Leaving us more confident in battling any other possible outbreaks in the future.