|MadSci Network: Immunology|
Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD) is a highly communicable viral disease of cattle and swine. It also affects other cloven-footed animals such as sheep, goats, deer, bison, llamas, and elk. The disease is characterized by fever and blister-like lesions followed by erosions on the tongue and lips, in the mouth, on the teats, and between the hooves. Some affected animals recover but the disease leaves many animals debilitated. There are seven main types of virus and many subtypes that are subject to rapid mutation, making vaccination problematic as a method of control. According to the Department of Health, infection in humans is very rare and, if infected, disease symptoms are even rarer. As of February 1, 2001, the Public Health Laboratory Service said there has only been one recorded case in Britain of FMD affecting a human, which was in 1967. The general effects of the disease in that case were similar to influenza with some blisters. It is a mild short lived, self-limiting disease. There is, however, a human condition called Hand, Foot and Mouth disease, which is unrelated and doesn't affect animals. FMD is often confused with hand-foot-and-mouth disease which affects humans and not animals. Sometimes FMD is also confused with bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), sometimes called mad cow disease. BSE belongs to a group of diseases known as transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSE) that most experts believe are caused by an infectious protein called a prion. Although transmissible, they are not as contagious as foot-and-mouth disease. The American Veterinary Medical Association has a press release on FMD and BSE: http://www.avma.org/press/bse-fmd.asp Bonnie
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