The signs of foot and mouth disease, what to do if you suspect it in your animals and measures to prevent its spread.
Applies to England, Scotland and Wales
Foot and mouth disease (FMD) affects cloven-hoofed animals including:
It does not affect humans.
The last outbreak in Great Britain was in 2007. There are no current cases or control zones in the UK.
Signs of foot and mouth disease
Cattle with foot and mouth disease may develop sores and blisters (vesicles):
- on the feet – between the toes and on the upper edge of the hoof where the skin and horn meet
- in the mouth
- on the tongue
Other signs of foot and mouth disease in cattle include:
- reluctance to feed
- drooling and smacking lips
- producing less milk
Sheep rarely develop mouth blisters as a result of foot and mouth disease. Lameness is the main sign of the disease.
Signs of foot and mouth disease in sheep include:
- severe lameness, which may develop suddenly and spread quickly among the flock
- lying down more than usual
- unwillingness to move when made to stand
- high numbers of abortions, stillbirths and lambs dying soon after birth
- young lambs quiet and lying down more often
- ewes unwilling to allow lambs to suckle
- blisters on the hooves or, rarely, in the mouth – these may be very small and hard to spot
Pigs rarely develop blisters as a result of foot and mouth disease. Lameness is the main sign of the disease.
Signs of foot and mouth disease in pigs include:
- sudden lameness, which may spread quickly among the herd
- loud squealing from pain
- tendency to lie down and unwillingness to move
- reluctance to feed
Sometimes, pigs may develop blisters on the:
- upper edge of the hoof where the skin and horn meet
Swine vesicular disease and Seneca Valley virus can be confused with foot and mouth disease. If you see any of these signs, even if you suspect swine vesicular disease or Seneca Valley virus, you must report them.
The Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) will manage the condition as suspected foot and mouth disease until laboratory tests prove otherwise.
Other cloven-hoofed animals, including goats and deer, can also be infected and introduce the disease to farm animals.
Signs of foot and mouth disease in these animals are similar to those in sheep, pigs and cattle.
Photos of clinical signs
There are some photos of clinical signs of foot and mouth disease on Flickr.
Report foot and mouth disease
If you suspect foot and mouth disease in your animals, you must report it immediately by calling:
- 03000 200 301 in England
- 0300 303 826 in Wales
- your local Field Services Office in Scotland
Foot and mouth disease is a notifiable animal disease. This means if you do not report it, you’re breaking the law.
APHA vets will investigate any reports. Find out what happens when a notifiable disease is suspected or confirmed.
How foot and mouth disease is spread
Foot and mouth disease is highly infectious.
Animals can catch the virus through direct contact with an infected animal.
The disease can also pass indirectly through:
- any other item that has been in contact with infected animals
The virus is present in the fluid of the blisters that animals develop. It can also be found in their saliva, urine, dung, milk and exhaled air before signs of the disease appear.
Preventing and controlling foot and mouth disease
You can help prevent the disease with good hygiene and biosecurity on your premises.
Find out more about preventing animal disease and how the government will control an outbreak in: