Foot and mouth disease

Foot and mouth disease (FMD) is a contagious viral disease that can spread very rapidly of cloven-hoofed animals.

Among these are domestic animals such as cattle, water buffalo, sheep, goats and pigs, as well as antelope, bison and other wild bovids, including deer

FMD causes fever, followed by the development of vesicles (blisters) chiefly in the mouth and on the feet. Young animals can die due to infection of the heart, pregnant animals can abort and animals used for traction cannot work when they are ill. The disease has a huge economic impact on production, mainly due to loss in milk production but also due to abortions, the death of young animals, and the cost for veterinary care.

In countries were traction is important the loss of traction can cause huge losses when e.g. the fields cannot be plowed. FMD outbreaks can lead to trade disruption, because countries free of the disease will not accept animals and animal products from countries that have FMD. The disease is caused by apicornavirus.There are seven 'serotypes' of FMD virus, each producing the same symptoms, and only distinguishable in the laboratory.

FMD is endemic in large parts of Asia, Africa, the Middle East and South America. In parts free of FMD like Europesporadic introduction of FMD do occur. Click here for a map with the world distribution in 2008.

More information:

Disease facts: Foot-and-mouth Disease (IAH)

Technical disease cards OIE

Information on Foot-and-mouth disease (DEFRA)

EPIZONE and foot and mouth disease


  • Numerous activities for harmonization and standardization of real time RT-PCR assays for FMD 
  • A list of validated, functional real-time RT-PCR assays useful for the sensitive, specific and robust detection of FMDV based on information of collected data has been compiled and summarized in a  review article.
  • Two workshops were conducted for disease decision makers, laboratory diagnosticians and epidemiologists. These workshops were a platform for discussion on national and international challenges and solutions in the use of FMD tests that can discriminate infected from vaccinated animals (DIVA diagnostics). 
  • Available information on DIVA diagnostics in FMDV was collected in a review article. 
  • Design of a unique pan viral DNA chip for virus discovery and sub typing and dedicated DNA chips for accurate sub typing of important epizootic viruses. Dedicated DNA chip will focus on vesicular viruses FMDV. 
  • Pen-side tests. In order to cover a broad spectrum of methods and to understand emerging technologies, the WP 4.4 partners have assessed a number of different technologies with respect to nucleic acid amplification and extraction/storage, like assessment of the BioSeeq instrument (Smiths Detection), NASBA, RT-LAMP for detection of FMDV.

Intervention strategies

  • A better knowledge of the functional states (cytokines, chemokines, co-stimulatory molecules etc.) of antigen presenting cells and the influence caused by epizootic diseases will improve the design of vaccine formulation and will provide the basis for a better and more rational use of adjuvants and immunomodulators. Viruses used for thein vitroandin vivoinfection experiments included food and mouth disease virus (FMDV).


Surveillance and Epidemiology

  • Quantification of key transmission parameters of FMDV in situations with and without vaccination. 
  • Molecular epidemiological studies into the genetic relationships between pathogens including foot-and-mouth disease. To support this, two web-based molecular epidemiology servers are being developed.