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Foot and mouth disease (FMD) is a very important transboundary animal disease (TAD) caused by foot and mouth disease virus (FMDV). The FMD virus is highly variable, occurring in seven different serotypes, viz., O, A, C, Asia1, South African Territories (SAT) 1, SAT 2, and SAT 3, globally (Gao et al., 2016), but their geographical distributions are not the same and are clinically indistinguishable. With the exception of Asia 1, all the FMDV serotypes have been recorded in Africa, of which serotypes O, A, SAT 1 and SAT 2 occur in West Africa.
FMD is extremely contagious and affects cloven-hoofed animals, including domesticated species (such as cattle, sheep, goats and pigs), and about 70 species of wildlife, which includes African buffalo (Fenner et al., 1993; Grubman and Baxt, 2004).
The disease is clinically characterized by quick rise of temperature, followed by formation and subsequent eruption of vesicular lesions in the mouth and on the tongue, nose, snout, feet and teats (Grubman and Baxt, 2004). These lesions result in profuse salivation, feed refusal and lameness.
The most susceptible hosts among the domestic animals are the cattle, while pigs are the most resistant (Donaldson and Alexandersen, 2002). The clinical signs in cattle are overt and appear very quickly, whereas in sheep and goats, the disease is often clinically unapparent (Grubman and Baxt, 2004) and may go unnoticed. Although FMD rarely results in death of adult animals, it is probably the most feared livestock disease due to its fast spread, nearly 100% morbidity (especially in naïve populations), mortality in young animals and its debilitating effects (CFSPH, 2014). Normally, affected animals recover but may become debilitated, causing a reduction in productivity (James and Rushton, 2002).
Probably, this is the most economically devastating disease of livestock mainly due to the control measures employed during outbreaks and losses resulting from interdiction of international trade of animals and animal products (Thompson et al., 2002). FMD has occurred in almost every part of the world where farm animals are kept, currently affecting more than 100 countries (mostly developing) worldwide but has been eradicated by the more developed countries (Jamal and Belsham, 2013). However, as evidenced by the 2001 epidemic in the UK, France and the Netherlands and the outbreaks in South Korea and Japan 2000 (Knowles et al., 2001), the disease can be reintroduced from endemic areas into previously free countries resulting in huge economic losses.
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