Foot-and-mouth disease

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Foot-and-mouth disease, FMD or hoof-and-mouth disease (Aphtae epizooticae), is a highly contagious and sometimes fatal viral disease of cloven-hoofed animals, including domestic animals such as cattle, water buffalo, sheep, goats and pigs, as well as antelope, bison and other wild bovids, and deer. It is caused by foot-and-mouth disease virus.

In addition, hedgehogs [1] and elephants[2] are susceptible to the disease. The llama and alpaca may develop mild symptoms, but are resistant to the disease and will not pass it on to others of the same species.[2] In laboratory experiments, mice and rats and chickens have been successfully infected by artificial means, but it is not believed that they would contract the disease under natural conditions.[2]

Just as humans may spread the disease by carrying the germs on their clothes and body, animals that are not susceptible to the disease may still aid in spreading it. This was the case in Canada in 1952, when an outbreak flared up again after dogs had carried off bones from dead animals.[2] Wolves are thought to play a similar role in the former Soviet Union.[3]

Humans are very rarely affected. Foot-and-mouth disease virus (FMDV) is a picornavirus, the prototypic member of the Aphthovirus genus in the Picornaviridae family. It is a highly variable and transmissible virus.[4]

There are seven FMDV serotypes: O, A, C, SAT-1, SAT-2, SAT-3, and Asia-1. These serotypes show some regionality, and the O serotype is most common.

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