Foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) is a febrile disease of cloven-hoofed animals that results in the formation of vesicles and erosions on mucous membranes and hairless parts of the skin, especially around the mouth and hooves. The disease is caused by viruses of the genus Aphthovirus of the family Picornaviridae. There are 7 serotypes (O, A, C, Asia 1, SAT1, SAT2, SAT3) which differ in global distribution and host range.
Globally, FMD is one of the most economically important animal diseases because of its potentially catastrophic effects. Due to the increase in global trade and travel, there is a constant risk of a reintroduction and explosive spread of FMD in Europe. The international trade in animals and animal products is strictly regulated, but the illegal importation of food of animal origin in travel largely escapes the control of the authorities.
Regardless of the route by which FMD enters Germany, in order to limit the damage, it is of the utmost importance to detect an introduction as soon as possible, otherwise the disease may have already spread to such an extent that rapid containment is no longer feasible. Therefore, in case of unclear clinical signs (fever, mucosal lesions, lameness, increased mortality of young stock) in ruminants and pigs, FMD must always be considered as a possible differential diagnosis! FMD exclusion by real-time RT-PCR can be carried out at any time at all veterinary diagnostic laboratories of the federal states and the NRL supports the federal states in this important task.