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Information and public services for the Island of Jersey

L'înformâtion et les sèrvices publyis pouor I'Île dé Jèrri

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Foot and mouth (cattle, sheep, pigs and goats)

​The clinical signs of foot and mouth disease are:
  • a fever
  • development of blisters, mainly in the mouth and on the feet
It is very infectious and will spread rapidly if not quickly controlled. While being one of the most significant infectious animal diseases, it is important to stress that FMD does not affect humans.

How to check for FMD in your animals

To check for FMD in your animals, you should:

  • inspect all stock regularly for signs of the disease. Where possible this should be done on a daily basis. Look particularly for blisters or sores on the mouth and feet
  • do not hurry your inspections. Make sure animals are properly restrained and there is plenty of light

If you suspect disease in any animal you must report it to us immediately.

What signs should I look for?

Signs to look for in cattle include:

  • reduced milk yield
  • raised temperature
  • shivering
  • lameness
  • slobbering and smacking lips
  • sores and blisters on the feet, in the mouth or on the tongue

Signs to look for in sheep include:

  • sudden, severe lameness
  • tendency to lie down more than usual
  • reluctance to move when made to stand
  • blisters on the hoof and mouth; the blisters can be very small, and hard to spot
  • a higher rate of lamb mortality or abortions
  • fatigue in young lambs
  • ewes unwilling to allow lambs to suckle

Signs to look for in pigs include:

  • sudden lameness – may squeal loudly as it may be painful
  • tendency to lie down and unwilling to move
  • blisters on the upper edge of the hoof where the skin and horn meet, on the snout or tongue
  • reluctance to feed

How is the disease spread?

The disease is spread in the following ways:

  • the virus is present in the fluid inside the blisters the animals develop. It can also be found in their saliva, urine, dung, milk and exhaled air
  • the virus may be spread through any of the above materials before any clinical signs can be seen
  • at the height of the disease, the virus is present in the blood and all parts of the animal’s body
  • animals may catch the virus through direct or indirect contact with an infected animal

How to stop it spreading

Good biosecurity can help reduce the risk of disease spreading to, or from, your farm. Things you can do include:

  • avoid visiting other farms unless absolutely necessary 
  • keep different species of livestock separate where possible
  • when handling your animals, be aware that sheep do not always show obvious signs of the disease and you could inadvertently infect other animals
  • keep everything clean – materials like mud or bedding on clothes, boots equipment or vehicles can carry the virus from farm to farm or between different groups of livestock on the farm
  • it is essential that you clean yourself, your vehicle and everything you carry thoroughly when you move between different groups of livestock on the farm
  • make sure you have disinfectant and cleaning material ready at your farm entrance, so that essential visitors can disinfect themselves before entering the premises and as they leave
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