HARRISBURG – The state Department of Agriculture is urging livestock producers to heighten biosecurity practices, especially if dealing with international markets, in light of a recent foot-and-mouth disease outbreak in Britain.
Foot-and-mouth disease is highly contagious and affects swine, cattle, sheep, goats and deer, which can be devastating to the livestock industry.
There are no implications for the human food chain or for human illness related to the disease.
“Pennsylvania’s livestock industry represents $1.9 billion of our state’s economy – supporting jobs in the commonwealth and providing food for all citizens,” said Agriculture Secretary Dennis Wolff. “While there is no direct threat to Pennsylvania livestock at this time, it is important for farmers to take precautionary measures, properly sanitizing clothes and equipment, to protect their farms and our industry.”
Pennsylvania farmers should be on heightened alert with regard to on-farm visitors from the United Kingdom. People who have had contact with British livestock in the previous five days should not be allowed direct contact with Pennsylvania livestock. Equipment that is brought onto the farm should be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected. Any cases of unexplained lameness, blisters/sores of the mouth, muzzle, teats, or coronary band of the hoof of livestock should be reported immediately to a veterinarian for examination.
The disease causes blisters that produce chronic lameness, weight loss, decreased production, and can bring about abortions and sterility. The incubation period for foot-and-mouth disease is two to 16 days.
The United States has been free of foot-and-mouth disease since 1929. The disease is currently known to exist in Asia, Africa, the United Kingdom, France, Eastern Europe, South America and the Middle East. British beef is already banned in the United States due to mad cow disease, and British pigs and pork products have also been banned.
For more information on foot-and-mouth disease, visit here and click on “FMD” under “Hot Issues.”