India struggles with foot and mouth disease - GAIN

FMD endemic in India
calendar icon 20 October 2023
clock icon 2 minute read

Endemic in most parts of the world, foot and mouth disease (FMD) is a severe and highly contagious viral disease. In India it causes illness in bovine dairy cattle, water buffaloes, pigs, sheep, goats, deer, and other animals with divided hooves, according to a recent US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Global Agricultural Information Network (GAIN) report

Although not a public health or food safety threat, FMD causes production losses and hardships for farmers and ranchers. FMD has mortality and morbidity rates of 5 and 100% respectively.

Foot-and-mouth disease is a worldwide concern as it can spread quickly and cause significant economic losses. It is endemic in India, where it has led to reduced milk yields and livestock losses that include increased infertility, reduced steer working capacity, and higher mortality among young and production losses in adult livestock. 

The virus spreads via direct contact with breath, saliva, urine, and other contaminated excretions of infected animals where it can survive for several months. The virus is also spread by fomites, mechanical vectors, and serves as an environmental contaminant. The trade in infected animals and their products can exacerbate the spread of foot-and mouth disease.

India is not among the 61 FMD-free countries. The FMD virus has seven serotypes: A, O, C, Asia 1, and SAT 1-3 types, and 60 subtypes. India currently reports the presence of serotypes A, O, and Asia 1.

Immunity against one serotype does not protect an animal against other types or subtypes. Conquering India's large herds of bovine dairy, water buffalo, and feral cattle and swine, local livestock remains highly susceptible to repeated FMD outbreaks. Among India's top 10 carabeef production states, FMD outbreak risk was being anticipated in the month of September 2023, in varying extent. 

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