Foot and mouth awareness

  spikeychris 12:31 23 Sep 2007

Tomorrow I have arranged for my presenter to speak to a representative of the NFU. I want her to ask “what actually is foot and mouth?” “Will the animal die if left?” “Where did foot and mouth come from?”

I didn't know the answers to these without searching the net, we have all heard of F&M but do you actually know what it is? I intend using this as a straw poll in the programme.


  Forum Editor 12:49 23 Sep 2007

that foot and mouth disease is some deadly contagion, almost akin to bubonic plague. The truth of course, is that it is endemic in many parts of the world, and they get along reasonably well.

F&M has been in this country since the mid 1800's. It's a viral disease, and one of its cute characteristics is that there are many different strains - it's like Flu in that respect. We worry about it in cattle, but it can affect other cloven-hoofed animals (sheep, pigs and deer), and occasionally (but rarely) humans, too.

The disease is transmitted by animals breathing or ingesting viral particles, which is why the stringent isolation measures are used when there's an outbreak.

F&M kills young animals, and can be pretty horrible for mature ones - their hooves can slough off, leaving them unable to stand. They salivate constantly, and have severe nasal discharges. Pregant animals which are infected will abort their young.

As far as farmers are concerned animals that have been infected with F&M effectively lose their market value. The acute phase (when the symptoms are obvious) lasts about 8-15 days. Afterwards those animals that can recover will do so very gradually. Animals that have recovered from F&M gain weight more slowly and (as a result of secondary infections and mastitis) and produce less milk. There is an overall decrease of 10-25% in productivity for both beef and dairy cattle.

The real problem is that animals which recover remain a danger to healthy ones - they will shed viral particles for up to three years after recovery, and that's why infected animals are slaughtered.

  Bingalau 13:07 23 Sep 2007

And now we have this "Blue Tongue" infection from midges it seems. How has Scotland got away without their cattle and sheep getting it all this time? They have midges galore up there. maybe their livestock is bred from sturdier stuff?

  carmichy 13:10 23 Sep 2007

I think I do put my foot in it quite often

  Forum Editor 13:12 23 Sep 2007

is a viral infection that is carried from host to host by midges. It has been slowly spreading our way for the past ten years or so from the Mediterranean region - probably because our warmer winters have allowed the particular midges which act as carriers to survive.

The lower temperatures in Scotland have prevented it reaching there so far. Nothing to do with sturdier livestock.

  Bingalau 13:51 23 Sep 2007

FE. I was thinking more about the amount of midges up there. It's a wonder the poor cattle don't get eaten alive.

  Sic 14:10 23 Sep 2007

That reads almost word for word from a text book i had at don't happen to write texts on viral transmission do you?!

  spikeychris 14:13 23 Sep 2007

...did anyone know this stuff before the FE enlightened us?

  techie4me 14:54 23 Sep 2007

'...did anyone know this stuff before the FE enlightened us?'
Yes, 4 Years studying Land & Agricultural Managementat taught me all about these various diseases.
I have some lovely pictures of infected animals if you want to see?

  Chegs ®™ 15:29 23 Sep 2007

UK farming contributed £5.6 billion to our economy in 2006. It uses around three quarters of this country's land area, and employs over half a million people.

So now you know why F&M is so detrimental to farming.

  Bingalau 15:29 23 Sep 2007

spikeychris. No thanks.

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