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Introduction and General Information

"The first priority for an FMD-free country is to avoid introduction of the virus" (J64.15.w3)

Foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) is extremely contagious, can cause severe disease in livestock and, although rarely fatal in adult animals, convalescence may be prolonged and the disease can be economically devastating. The presence of FMD in a country also reduces the trade opportunities for that country with regard to the export of animals and their products.

  • Considerable efforts are made by countries in which FMD is not normally present, to minimise the chance of the disease being introduced.
  • Countries with endemic FMD may also take substantial precautions to avoid the importation of non-endemic foot-and-mouth disease virus (FMD Virus) types or strains.
    • "Whatever the FMD status of a country, it is essential to preclude the importation of FMD viruses - if only to make certain that 'foreign' virus types and subtypes are not introduced." (B210.89.w89).
  • The increase in long-distance trading of animals, both within and between countries and geographical regions (e.g. within or into the EU, increased trade from the Horn of Africa to the Middle East), may increase the risk of the importation of FMD, and also the risk of rapid spread of infection following introduction.

(J3.102.w5, J64.15.w3, J70.17.w1, B210.89.w89, B495.4.w4 - full text provided)

For information regarding the risks and prevention of transportation of FMDV within a country, see: FMD Quarantine and Disinfection (Foot and Mouth Disease Control)

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Ways in which FMD may be introduced

FMD may be introduced by:
  • The importation of infected susceptible species of livestock.
  • The importation of infected or contaminated meat, other livestock products (including semen for artificial insemination), hay, straw, dried grass, packing materials etc.
    • This may be legal or illegal importation.
  • Swill from aircraft or boats
  • Movement of people and their clothing, vehicles etc. from infected areas.
  • Natural spread across a political boundary (from infected animals on one side of the border to susceptible animals on the other side).
  • Airborne movement of virus.
  • Possibly by movement of birds or other wildlife
Historically, the most important means of introduction of FMD have been:
  • Movement of infected livestock (particularly by illegal importation from one country to an adjacent country, e.g. in Eurasia).
  • Meat products fed in pig swill, or to which pigs have gained access.
  • Wind-borne movement.

All of these except wind-borne spread are susceptible to control measures; however, importation due to illegal movements of animals or animal products is always possible.

A risk analysis indicated that the most likely means of introduction into Europe are by illegal importation of livestock or of animal products (J3.150.w3).

Additionally, there have been reports of FMD outbreaks associated with the use and manufacture of vaccines and research into the virus:

  • Inactivated vaccines which were not inactivated according to modern internationally acceptable standards of Good Manufacturing Practice.
  • Escape of live virulent virus from research laboratories and vaccine plants.
  • Live vaccines (very rarely used even in developing countries in previous years) which were insufficiently attenuated or reverted to virulence.

There is now also a potential risk from bioterrorism, i.e. intentional introduction of the virus.

(J3.102.w5, J3.150.w3, J9.293.w1, J42.118.w1, J63.14.w1, J64.21.w5, J64.25.w1, J70.17.w1, J72.41.w1, J80.61.w1, J112.25.w3, B58, B207, B216, B494.7.w7 - full text provided, D34, D36.Para13-30)

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Measures which may be taken to reduce the risks of the importation of FMD

  • Importation of FMDV could be prevented by a complete embargo on importation from FMD-endemic countries of animals, animal products, hay straw and vegetables.
    • If importations are to be allowed, preconditions must be met such as quarantine and testing prior to importation.
    • Importation of meat from countries which are not FMD-free should be allowed only for de-boned carcasses without offal or lymph nodes remaining .
    • Precautions which have been laid down by European Community (European Union) countries for the importation of beef from some FMD-endemic countries impose strict conditions including maturation of carcasses (muscle pH decreases, destroying virus), deboning and removal of lymph nodes (thereby removing parts of the carcass where virus is likely to survive).
  • Quarantine should be used prior to importation of animals from an area where FMD occurs as sporadic outbreaks only.
  • Only zona pellucida-intact embryos should be imported from enzootic areas, and care must be taken with importation of semen.
  • Waste foods and uncooked meats from ships, aeroplanes etc. pose a particular risk and such waste products should be disposed of in such a way as to ensure there is no contact with live animals.
  • Serious consideration should be given to discontinue the feeding of swill to pigs in view of the associated risks if the swill is inadequately cooked.
  • Increased efforts to reduce illegal and personal importation of meat products, including more effective awareness campaigns at airport arrivals, and improved surveillance for illegal imports of meat/meta products .

Adequate quarantine and inspection prior to the movement of livestock out of endemic areas is essential .

The "Importation of Hay and Straw Order 1979" "is designed to prevent the accidental importation of infection into Great Britain".

(B207, B209, B210.89.w89, B494.7.w7 - full text provided, B495.5.w5 - full text provided, J3.131.w1, J16.22.w1, J70.17.w1, J80.61.w1, W32.Apl01.sib1)

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FMD Status for a particular Country

Historically, countries, zones within countries, larger regions and whole continents have been described as being free from FMD, or as areas where the disease is endemic. Alternatively, data has been recorded for different areas indicating the time since the last outbreak and/or the number of outbreaks which have occurred over a period of time. More recently, criteria have been agreed by a large number of governments in which the status of a country, or a zone within a country, is precisely defined.

Six categories are recognised:

  • FMD free country where vaccination is not practised
  • FMD free country where vaccination is practised
  • FMD free zone where vaccination is not practised
  • FMD free zone where vaccination is practised
  • FMD infected country
  • FMD infected zone

The definitions of the criteria identifying these possibilities are set out in Articles 2.2.10.2 to 2.2.10.6 of Chapter 2.2.10 Foot and Mouth Disease of the Terrestrial Animal Health Code Sixteenth Edition of the Office International des Epizooties (OIE).

  • Article 2.2.10.8 further sets out the criteria required for a FMD free country or zone to regain its status following an outbreak of FMD.

The OIE also maintains a list of countries with different FMD statuses. This is available on their Website and is updated regularly.

The following information is taken from the OIE list of FMD-Free Countries, data from the OIE Website, updated 07 August 2007 (W31.Sept07.w1).

(Adopted by the International Committee of the OIE on 22 May 2007)

1) The following list includes Member Countries recognised as FMD free countries where vaccination is not practised, according to the provisions of Chapter 2.2.10. of the Terrestrial Code [Terrestrial Animal Health Code Sixteenth Edition]:

Albania, Australia, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Rep., Denmark, El Salvador, Estonia, Finland, Former Yug. Rep. of Macedonia, France Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea (Rep. of), Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malta, Mauritius, Mexico, Netherlands New Caledonia , New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Panama, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia-and-Montenegro (including the territory of Kosovo administered by the United Nations), Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, United Kingdom*, United States of America, Vanuatu.

2) The following list includes Member Countries recognised as FMD free countries where vaccination is practised, according to the provisions of Chapter 2.2.10. of the Terrestrial Code:

Taipei China and Uruguay.

3. The following list includes Member Countries recognised as having an FMD free zone where vaccination is not practised, according to the provisions of Chapter 2.2.10. of the Terrestrial Code:

Argentina: enlargement of an existing zone designated by the Delegate of Argentina in a document addressed to the Director General in January 2007;

Botswana: enlargement of an existing zone as designated by the Delegate of Botswana in a document addressed to the Director General in December 2006;

Brazil: State of Santa Catarina;

Colombia: zones designated by the Delegate of Colombia in documents addressed to the Director General in November 1995 (Area I - Northwest region of Choco Department) and in April 1996;

Malaysia: zones of Sabah and Sarawak designated by the Delegate of Malaysia in a document addressed to the Director General in December 2003;

Namibia: zone designated by the Delegate of Namibia in a document addressed to the Director General in February 1997;

Peru: zones as designated by the Delegate of Peru in two documents addressed to the Director General in December 2004 and in January 2007;

Philippines: Islands of Mindanao, Visayas, Palawan and Masbate;

South Africa: zone designated by the Delegate of South Africa in a document addressed to the Director General in May 2005.

4. The following list includes Member Countries recognised as having FMD free zones where vaccination is practised, according to the provisions of Chapter 2.2.10. of the Terrestrial Code:

Argentina: zone of Argentina designated by the Delegate of Argentina in documents addressed to the Director General in March 2007.

Bolivia: zone of Chiquitania designated by the Delegate of Bolivia in documents addressed to the Director General in January 2003 and a zone situated in the western part of the Department of Oruro in documents addressed to the Director General in September 2005;

Brazil~: States of Acre along with two adjacent municipalities of Amazon state, Rio Grande do Sul, Rondonia and the middle southern part of the State Pará, as designated by the Delegate of Brazil in a document addressed to the Director General in March 2004 and February 2007;

Colombia: zone designated by the Delegate of Colombia in documents addressed to the Director General in January 2003, two zones designated by the Delegate in documents addressed to the Director General in December 2004 and a south western zone designated by the Delegate of Colombia in documents addressed to the Director General in January 2007;

Paraguay: zone designated by the Delegate of Paraguay in documents addressed to the Director General in March 2007.

* Suspension of "FMD free country" status:

United Kingdom
Following a report received on 4 August 2007 from the OIE Delegate of the United Kingdom of a confirmed outbreak of foot and mouth disease in the province of Surrey, UK the status of a "FMD free country" for the United Kingdom is suspended with effect from 4 August 2007

~Suspension of "FMD free zone with vaccination" status

Brazil
Following a report received from the OIE Delegate of Brazil of an FMD suspected outbreak in the state of Parana, the status of the "FMD free zone with vaccination" for the zone of Brazil comprising the states of Parana, Sao Paulo, Goias, Mato Grosso and Federal District of Brasil is suspended with effect from 21 October 2005

Following a report received from the OIE Delegate of Brazil of an FMD outbreak in the state Mato Grosso do Sul, the status of the"FMD free zone with vaccination" for the zone of Brazil comprising the states of Mato Grosso do Sul, Tocantins, Mina Gerais, Rio de Janeiro, Espiritu Santo, Bahia and Sergipe is suspended with effect from 30 September 2005

(W31.Sept07.w1)

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International IMPORT - EXPORT requirements for animals and animal products

International IMPORT-EXPORT Requirements are set by the OIE (See W30 - Office International des Epizooties - http://www.oie.int/) and detailed in the Terrestrial Animal Health Code Sixteenth Edition - 2007: CHAPTER 2.2.10. FOOT AND MOUTH DISEASE" (B493.2.2.10.w1)

Click here for access to full text of Chapter 2.2.10 Foot and Mouth Disease

This information was taken from the OIE Website with the kind permission of the OIE and was current as of September 2007. This code is updated regularly and the OIE Website should be consulted directly to check that information is current. (See W30 - Office International des Epizooties - http://www.oie.int/).

The OIE regulations have been changed to incorporate the use of tests for antibodies to non-structural proteins. The OIE Terrestrial Animal Health Code states:

Article 2.2.10.8.

Recovery of free status
When an FMD outbreak or FMDV infection occurs in an FMD free country or zone where vaccination is not practised, one of the following waiting periods is required to regain the status of FMD free country or zone where vaccination is not practised:

3 months after the last case where a stamping-out policy and serological surveillance are applied in accordance with Appendix 3.8.7.; or

3 months after the slaughter of all vaccinated animals where a stamping-out policy, emergency vaccination and serological surveillance are applied in accordance with Appendix 3.8.7.; or

6 months after the last case or the last vaccination (according to the event that occurs the latest), where a stamping-out policy, emergency vaccination not followed by the slaughtering of all vaccinated animals, and serological surveillance are applied in accordance with Appendix 3.8.7., provided that a serological survey based on the detection of antibodies to nonstructural proteins of FMDV demonstrates the absence of infection in the remaining vaccinated population.

Further information on surveillance is provided in Terrestrial Animal Health Code Sixteenth Edition: Appendix 3.8.7 Surveillance (full text provided).

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Recommended "Best Practice" for Travellers and Visitors

Many countries, particularly those who do not have endemic Foot-and-Mouth Disease have issued advice for travellers to areas where FMD virus is currently active. The advice issued by a specific country must always be followed when entering that particular country. If travellers are not aware of the recommendations they should contact the appropriate government department - usually a Ministry of Agriculture.

In general, the following issues are usually covered in the advice, and unless otherwise stated the procedures below should minimise the risk that a traveller or visitor could spread the FMD Virus to a new area.

For persons who have been on or close to infected farms (i.e. in an Infected Area), to an abattoir, or handling livestock

  • Ensure a high standard of personal hygiene including thorough showering and hair-washing.
  • Make sure that the clothing and footwear worn during the visit are free from soil or manure. Clean and disinfect footwear. Laundering or dry cleaning of clothes is recommended.
  • Stay away from farms and avoid contact with cloven-footed livestock or wildlife for a minimum of 5 days after returning (Usually countries will have a statutory period which must be followed. This may be up to 14 days).

For persons who live on or visit a FMD-free farm and who have been on or close to infected farms, to an abattoir, or handling livestock while in an FMD infected region

  • Avoid contact with livestock or wildlife for a minimum of 5 days after returning.
  • Take additional sanitary precautions such as washing and disinfecting all personal effects and equipment. It is particularly important to clean and disinfect footwear. Clothing worn in the FMD infected region should be laundered or dry cleaned before visiting a FMD-free farm. (Usually countries will have a statutory period which must be followed. This may be up to 14 days).

If persons on an uninfected premises are receiving visitors from FMD infected regions

  • Discourage farm visits for 5 days after leaving infected region.
  • If visitors must come to the farm before 5 days have lapsed, they should avoid contact with livestock for 5 days and take additional sanitary precautions such as thorough showering and hair-washing, and washing and disinfecting all personal effects and equipment that have accompanied them. It is particularly important to clean and disinfect footwear. Laundering or dry cleaning of clothes is recommended.

Methods of disinfection of clothing and footwear recommended include:

  • A mixture of 50 percent water and 50 percent vinegar for 30 minutes
  • Sodium carbonate (washing soda) 100 grams per litre of water for 30 minutes
  • Citric acid powder (2 grams per litre of water) for 30 minutes

The following documents were the recommendations for travellers published by the governments of the USA, Canada and Australia respectively on their Websites at 4th June 2001:

(W30.Jun01.sib1, W43.Jun01.sib2, W44.Jun01.sib1)

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Authors & Referees

Authors Dr Debra Bourne MA VetMB PhD MRCVS
Referee Suzanne I Boardman BVMS MRCVS

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