Foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) is a serious animal disease, but it is not a public heath or food safety concern. The viral disease affects animals with cloven (or divided) hooves, such as cattle, swine, sheep, goats and deer.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization agree that FMD is not a threat to food safety or public health, and does not affect the safety of pasteurized milk and meat sold in supermarkets and restaurants.
FMD is highly contagious and debilitating among the animals it affects. FMD affects the animals' appetites, which can affect their ability to maintain weight or produce milk. As a result, FMD poses a severe economic risk to the agricultural and food industry as an outbreak would significantly affect meat and dairy production.
Efforts are currently in place to protect the herd and the environment, such as continuously monitoring for FMD in the United States and around the world. The USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) also works with Customs and Border Protection to screen for products that could carry the FMD virus at ports of entry. Any imports of susceptible animals or animal products from FMD-affected countries are prohibited.
FMD is not the same as Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease (HFMD), a common childhood illness not related and caused by a very different virus, nor is it the same as bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), commonly known as “mad cow disease.” Pets, such as dogs or cats, and other animals without cloven hooves are not susceptible to FMD.
See the following links for more information about FMD:
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
FMD Fact Sheets (PDFs)
News and Articles