ARCHIVE: Clinical signs of Foot and Mouth Disease

What are the signs?

Blisters  (vesicles) in the mouth or on the feet and other signs which vary somewhat but can include:

Signs of Foot and Mouth in cattle

  • Fever, shivering, dullness, blowing lightly
  • Feeding and cudding may cease and the animal is “tucked up” with a staring coat. If at pasture, the animal will be away from the rest of the herd and probably lying down.
  • Quivering of the lips and uneasy movement of the lower jaw with copious frothy saliva around the lips that drips to the ground at intervals.
  • Slobbering and smacking lips, slavering
  • Loss of condition is marked because of the fever and because the mouth is so painful that the animal is afraid to eat.
  • Tender and sore feet, blisters on feet, lameness
  • Reduced milk yield and sore teats in milking stock
  • Off feed
  • Raised temperature
  • Pictures of infected cattle

Signs of Foot and Mouth in sheep

  • Fever
  • Mouth symptoms are not often noticeable
  • Sudden severe lameness, stiff-legged walk
  • Lies down frequently and is very unwilling to rise
  • When made to rise stands in a half-crouching position, with hind legs brought well forward, reluctant to move
  • Blisters may be found on the hoof where the horn joins the skin which may extend all round the coronet and in the cleft of the foot. When they burst the horn is separated from the tissues underneath, and hair round the hoof may appear damp
  • increased lamb mortality
  • off colour
  • the dental pad and sometimes the tongue
  • Pictures of infected sheep
  • More detailed information for sheep farmers

Signs of Foot and Mouth in pigs

  • Fever, dullness, off feed
  • Sudden lameness
  • Prefers to lie down
  • When made to move squeals loudly and hobbles painfully
  • Blisters form on the upper edge of the hoof, where the skin and horn meet, and on the heels and in the cleft
  • Mouth symptoms are usually not visible, but blisters may develop on the snout or on the tongue.
  • May extend right round the top of the hoof with the result that the horn becomes separated
  • Blisters may develop on the snout or on the tongue

It is important to remember that Swine Vesicular Disease has identical symptoms to Foot and Mouth disease. Therefore anyone who sees blisters in pigs must report the sighting as suspected Foot and Mouth disease until laboratory tests prove otherwise.


Page last modified: 1 November, 2008