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Word Count: 456
What IS foot mouth disease It is one of the most infectious diseases known and consists of a virus which attacks two groups of animals - pigs and ruminants The latter group includes cattle sheep goats deer and some other foreign breeds of animal such as buffalo and antelope It does not affect birds dogs or horses but the virus can be carried on the feet of any bird or animal including humans that come into contact with it The symptoms relate to the name the disease has been given - a blistering of the skin around the animals foot particularly between the hooves and a similar blistering of the skin around the mouth and nose These physical symptoms are usually accompanied by a fever The virus has a 3-8 day incubation period A question now being asked is Can it affect humans You may have read elsewhere that the answer is No However this is not strictly true albeit that the risk is very small One such case where the victim developed flu-like symptoms with blistering and subsequently ulcerating skin was reported some 25 years ago That person made a full recovery The risk to humans would be greatest if the virus entered the human body via an exposed wound handling infected stock without adequate protection or drinking milk which had not been pasteurized from an affected cow However it should be said from the start that this latter source is highly unlikely because virtually all of todays public milk supply is pasteurized and this process immediately kills the virus The Food Standard Agency has made it very clear that eating the meat of an infected animal has no harmful effect on humans So how does it spread Well it can be borne aloft on the wind and can easily travel more than 50 km overland or 300 km over sea It can also be transferred by direct contact between animals including humans
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