Foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) is a highly contagious viral disease of cloven-hoofed animals (cattle, sheep, goats and pigs). Many zoo and wild animals are also susceptible to FMD. Germany and the EU are officially free from FMD; the last cases in Germany were observed in 1988. However, FMD still is endemic in Turkey, the Near East and Africa, in many Asian countries and in parts of South America. Illegally imported animal products introduced from these countries represent a constant threat to agriculture in Europe.
Even if FMD were introduced to Germany, however, the consumption of pasteurized milk, dairy products or meat would not represent a risk for human health.
The Friedrich-Loeffler-Institut was founded in 1910 to conduct research on FMD. Since then, this animal disease has been an inherent part of its research activities.