Foot and mouth disease: a disease commonly found in cattle population in India being endemic in Asian – African continent. FMD is quite a widespread disease process and is considered to be an important viral disease of the ruminants. With strains SAT1, SAT2, SAT 3, ASIA 1, O, A and C,this disease affects both, the cattle as well as the Dairy farmer adversely. Cattle’s quality of lifealong with productive life seriously hampered with around Rs.18,000 – 22,000 Crores loss annually incurred according to a study. India has 528 million FMD-susceptible animals [Pattnaik et al 2012] which includes a wide variety of animals [Ungulates i.e., cloven footed animals] such as cow, buffalo, goat, etc. with disease being so dangerous and widespread, it is essential to understand more about this disease, how it manifests, how domestic animals get infected, what is the outcome and what is the probable line of treatment for the same. In todays blog, let us unveil the world of FMD, and some of the FAQs pertaining to it.

SO, WHAT IS FMD OR FOOT & MOUTH DISEASE?

Foot and Mouth disease is a viral disease caused by aphthous virus of the family Picornaviridae which affects the cloven-footed animal species such as cow, buffaloes, goats, sheep, pigs, etc. it also affects wildlife such as Bisons, elephants, antelopes and deer being particularly susceptible.Foot and Mouth disease commonly abbreviated as FMD and is locally called as मुंहपका-खुरपकारोग in Hindi Local language.  This disease manifests itself as vesicles or blisters erupting on the foot, udder as well as mouth followed by erosion of the affected areas. Result? Restlessness, excessive salivation, discomfort, drop in milk yield and production, abortion, lameness and drop in fertility. Young animals are particularly badly affected as this virus causes myocarditis [Inflammation of Myocardium of Heart] and death. In susceptible populations, the morbidity rate or the infection rate is as high as 100% which means if an infected animal is introduced to herd or if the susceptible crowd is accidentally exposed to this virus, there is a good chance that almost 100% or the entire herd will inevitably be infected. That’s how unique this disease really is!

WATCH OUT FOR THESE: COMMONLY OBSERVED SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS 

Any disease process manifests itself in the form commonly observed signs and symptoms. FMD especially stands true to its name i.e. The major signs associated with this disease [vesicles/pustules] are located at foot and mouth region of the cattle. Let us have a look at the other signs and symptoms of FMD:

  1. Increase in body temperature for 2-3 days with incubation period of this virus being 1-8 days [Signs and Symptoms start flaring up at around Day 3]
  2. Vesicles formation at mouth region, foot, udder
  3. These vesicles may rupture further causing erosion leaving a raw scar behind
  4. Drooling of sticky, foamy and stringy saliva from the mouth
  5. Reduction in food consumption [as these lesions are painful post rupturing] which makes the animal refuse feed and water.
  6. Immunity inevitably falls down due to the ongoing viral infection
  7. Lameness and weakness
  8. Loss of body weight which is caused both due to the ongoing infection as well as secondary anorexia
  9. Young animals affected with FMD virus suffer worse. Myocarditis and death being very rampant in young ones.
  10. Production related signs are observed as well. These are:
    • Drop in milk yield
    • Abortions
    • Reduced capacity of milking
    • Infertility
    • Fertility rate goes downhill
    • Recovered cows still show lower milk yield as compared to pre-infection yield rate

PREVENTION IS BETTER THAN CURE:

It is essential to realise that FMD is a viral disease and it spreads through aerosols, contaminated fomites [milking equipment, infected handling instruments, clothing, shoes, transport vehicles] could potentially be the vehicle for disease particulates. Infected food and water too can potentially spread the disease further. This gives us an idea, how this virus can potentially aggravate and spread from one farm to another creating an atmosphere of chaos causing heavy losses to farmers and animal health.

That being said, FMD is a dangerous disease which can spread rather quickly, causing morbidity or infection at a much higher rate than anticipated, however, this disease can be easily prevented by-

1. Vaccination

Vaccinate your farm animals on time. Vaccines are an efficient tool for protecting and safe-guarding cattle from the threat of viral diseases such as FMD. Vaccination schedule of FMD is as follows:

1st dose of vaccine- To be given at the age of 4 Months and above

2nd dose [Booster Dose] -To be given 1 month post the previous dose

Subsequent Dose – every 6 months to annually.

2. Ensure proper cleanliness and sanitation

Sanitation is an important step which should never be overlooked or ignored. Not just FMD, but there are many diseases and infections which flare up given the poor sanitation protocols or poor managemental practices. Having good managemental practices and sanitation protocol is critical for health management of both: animals as well as animal handlers or the dairy farmers.

Here’s what you can do:

  • Ensure cleanliness of the cattle [Medicated or Routine Bath as indicated, proper grooming schedule, timely cleaning of urine, dung etc]
  • Ensure cleanliness of milking apparatus [All milking apparatus must be thoroughly cleaned and sanitized prior to milk collection]
  • Ensure cleanliness of farm helpers or persons who are milking the cattle. [Hands, feet must be thoroughly washed prior to milking, clean clothing is a must]
  • Ensure that the dairy farm is well protected. All vehicles entering the farm must be sanitized properly.

3. Boosting immunity

Immunity is the key to survival. Yes, Immunity has been playing a crucial role in protecting our bodies from harmful foreign pathogens such as viruses, bacteria etc. Immunity can be boosted by various techniques such as good quality ration, stress-free and healthy lifestyle, immune-modulators, etc. Do check out our blog on immunity as well to learn more about immunity and its role.

WHAT IF THERE IS AN FMD OUTBREAK?

So, in case, there is an FMD outbreak nearby, there lies a threat that your farm could come under the clutches of this viral outbreak. So how do we protect our beloved cattle? Answer- by following strict sanitation protocols. Novel Homeopathic drug Foomasule No 1. Is an efficient tool to protect your cattle in case of an FMD outbreak nearby. Foomasule No.1 gives immunity against all strains of FMD virus and develops resistance within 48 hours to 72 hours. It is effective even in conditions where there is constraint of separating diseased animals from the herd.

FIGHTING FMD:

If there is FMD outbreak on your farm, it is important to isolate the infected animals and protect the ones who are immunologically competent. For affected animals, the treatment is usually symptomatic which includes, saline [if there is prolonged anorexia and weakness], antibiotics to prevent any secondary infections, vitamins and treating the local lesions. Along with the conventional therapy, Foomasule no 2 is a homeopathic drug which helps combat this war against foot & mouth disease virus. Foomasule No.2 responds against all strains of infections and cures mouth lesions and the animal starts grazing as soon as possible. There is reduced salivation which corresponds to the start of recovery phase. The foot lesions start drying up faster preventing any exogenous growth between footpads.