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Clinical signs of foot-and-mouth disease in cattle

A range of clinical signs may indicate the presence of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) in cattle.

Steer with FMD tongue lesions

Steer with FMD tongue lesions. © UK DEFRA.

Typical clinical signs of FMD in cattle include:

  • pyrexia (up to 42°C)
  • anorexia
  • in dairy animals, reduced milk volume for 2-3 days.

Vesicles develop on the buccal and nasal mucous membranes and/or between the claws and coronary band. These may lead to:

  • smacking of lips
  • bruxism
  • drooling
  • lameness
  • stamping or kicking of feet.

Vesicles frequently also develop on the mammary glands.

Vesicles rupture, leaving erosions 24 hours later.

Cattle generally recover from FMD within 8-15 days, but complications may include:

  • tongue erosions
  • secondary infection of lesions
  • hoof deformations
  • mastitis and permanent impairment of milk production
  • abortion
  • permanent weight loss.

Young animals may die from viral myocarditis.

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