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 41°C)
  • anorexia
  • in dairy animals, reduced milk production.

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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