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Foot-and-mouth disease facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts

Foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) is one of the acute infectious diseases (highly contagious disease) of animals. Foot-and-mouth disease virus causes the disease which can infect domestic animals such as cattle, pigs, sheep, goats and deer. Generally, it is believed that FMD is not very contagious to humans. However, humans can spread FMD by carrying the virus on their clothes and body. FMD breaks out all over the globe, because it is highly contagious to many animals. The earliest description of FMD was that by Hieronymi Fracastorii (1546). He described the disease, as being unusual and affecting only cattle, when it occurred in northern Italy in 1514.

Where FMD Occurs

While the disease is widespread around the world, North America, Central America, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Chile, and many countries in Europe are considered free of FMD. Various types of FMD virus have been found in Africa, South America, Asia, and some parts of Europe.


The most obvious signs of Foot and Mouth Disease are excessive slobbering (letting liquid fall from their mouth), a lack of appetite and lameness (unable to walk properly because of damage to one or both of their legs). Affected animals may experience a sudden rise in temperature, sores in the mouth or other areas.

Signs of Foot and Mouth in cattle

  • Slobbering and smacking lips
  • Shivering
  • Tender and sore feet
  • Reduced milk yield
  • Sores and blisters on feet
  • Raised temperature

Signs of Foot and Mouth in pigs

  • Sudden lameness
  • Prefers to lie down
  • Sore on the upper edge of the hoof, where the skin and horn meet, and on the heels


FMD is caused by a virus. Signs of illness can appear after an incubation period (the time from the moment of exposure to an infectious agent until signs and symptoms of the disease appear) of one to eight days, but often develop within three days. Immunity to one type does not protect an animal against other types.

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Foot-and-mouth disease Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.