The recent outbreaks of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) in the United Kingdom and elsewhere have put the U.S. pork industry on alert. Producers need to exercise caution to avoid spread of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD), says an official of the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC).

FMD is not a human health risk, but the virus can be carried on clothing, shoes, body (particularly the throat and nasal passages) and personal items, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The disease spreads easily among cloven-hoofed animals including cattle, sheep, pigs, goats and deer.

"Observe the biosecurity measures recommended by USDA, which are posted on NPPC’s Web site, if traveling to countries with FMD or hosting visitors from FMD-infected areas," says Beth Lautner, DVM, NPPC vice president of science and technology. Strictly avoid contact with U.S. livestock or wildlife for five days after visiting areas with FMD. Properly clean travel clothes. Wear other clothing for contact with livestock, she says.

Even though the U.S. has been free of FMD since 1929, NPPC’s Swine Health Committee and pork producer representatives are working to ensure all steps are being taken to avoid an outbreak of a foreign animal disease like FMD.

"Even though we have been fortunate in the U.S. and have not had to deal with a severe animal disease outbreak like the U.K. is experiencing, it doesn’t mean that we can become complacent," says Jon Caspers, NPPC Swine Health Committee chair and Swaledale, IA, producer.

Nationally, NPPC is a founding member of the National Animal Health Emergency Management Steering Committee. The steering committee has developed a new partnership model for emergency management coordination. This includes assessment of state and industry preparedness and educational materials to producers and veterinarians.

Information on foreign animal diseases, including an awareness video, is available on NPPC’s Web site www.PorkScience.org.