Exotic notifiable animal diseases contingency plans - Scottish Regional Resilience Partnerships' framework: August 2022

Information on how and when operational partners should respond to a suspect or confirmed exotic notifiable animal disease outbreak.

Appendix H: Foot and mouth disease (FMD)


Foot and mouth disease (FMD) is an acute infectious disease, which causes fever, followed by the development of vesicles (blisters) - chiefly in the mouth and on the feet. The disease is caused by a virus of which there are seven "types", each producing the same symptoms, and distinguishable only in the laboratory. FMD is probably more infectious than any other disease affecting animals and spreads rapidly if uncontrolled. Among farm stock, cattle, sheep, pigs, goats and deer are susceptible. Elephants, hedgehogs, rats and any other cloven-footed animals can also contract the disease. The Scottish Government's response to a FMD outbreak is outlined in the Scottish Government's Exotic Diseases of Animals Contingency Framework Plan. The FMD Control Strategy for GB contains a more detailed response to FMD. During an outbreak of FMD in Scotland or elsewhere in GB, the FMD web pages will be supplemented with additional information specific to the disease outbreak.

Legislation and National control strategy

Year: 2003

Disease Orders: EU Directive

Statutory Instrument number: 85/EC

Year: 2006

Disease Orders: Foot and Mouth Disease (Scotland) Order 2006

Statutory Instrument number: 44

Year: 2007

Disease Orders: Foot and Mouth Disease (Scotland) Amendment Order 2007

Statutory Instrument number: 429

Year: 2007

Disease Orders: Foot and Mouth Disease (Scotland) Amendment (No2) Order 2007

Statutory Instrument number: 455

Year: 2006

Disease Orders: Foot and Mouth Disease (Slaughter and Vaccination) (Scotland) Regulations 2006

Statutory Instrument number: 45

Year: 2011

Disease Orders: Foot and Mouth Disease Control Strategy for Great Britain 2011

Possible impact

Confirmation of FMD may require the introduction of an immediate GB-wide national movement ban for all susceptible species. Cattle and sheep farming are major agricultural sectors in Scotland and both of these activities would be severely compromised in the event of an outbreak. However, intensive pig production would also face considerable welfare problems very quickly. Of all the notifiable diseases, FMD is likely to present the greatest logistical challenge to those agencies responding to an outbreak. The control measures may have to be maintained for many months. A suite of template veterinary risk assessments (VRAs) have been prepared to help facilitate the release of early movement licences.

Public health

Human disease is extremely rare and is a result of extremely heavy challenge (slaughter person handling very infectious animals). If people do become infected, the symptoms are vesicles on hands and feet. FMD should not be confused with Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease, a common disease of children.

Risk of introduction of infection and spread of disease

FMD is endemic in parts of the world, with sporadic outbreaks in disease-free areas. Disease can enter the country via imported animals, contaminated vehicles, personnel and animal products, including human foodstuffs and smuggled goods. Since 2001 government has introduced measures to prevent the introduction of infection, measures to reduce the chance infection of livestock by imported goods, and measures that would slow down the spread of infection in livestock if they were to become infected.

The virus is present in great quantity in the fluid from the blisters, and it can also occur in saliva, milk and dung. Contamination of any objects with any of these discharges is a danger to other stock (fomite risk).

Airborne spread of the virus can take place under favourable climatic conditions and the disease may spread several miles by this route. Animals pick up the virus either by direct contact with an infected animal, or by contact with foodstuffs or other objects that have been contaminated by such an animal, or by eating or coming into contact with some part of an infected carcase.

Lorries, market places, and loading ramps - in or over where infected animals have travelled - are dangerous sources of infection until disinfected. Roads may also become contaminated, and virus may be picked up and carried on the wheels of passing vehicles.

The boots, clothing, and hands of livestock handlers/keepers who have attended diseased animals can spread the disease. Dogs, cats, poultry, wild game and vermin may also carry infection. The interval between exposure to infection and the appearance of symptoms varies between 24 hours and ten days, or even longer. The average time, under natural conditions, is three to six days.

Lead responder control measures under Statutory and Regulatory powers and responsibilities

Local Authority principal role

  • Enforcing animal health and welfare legislation.
  • Enforcing movement restrictions.
  • Enforcing of C&D requirements.
  • Erection of signage and dissemination of guidance and information.
  • Stand down and recovery.

Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) principal role

  • Respond to and investigate all reports of suspect notifiable disease.
  • Lead agency in the instigation of local response to a disease outbreak.
  • Convene the NDCC, CDCC and FOB.
  • Supervise the welfare of animals being culled.
  • Surveillance and blood sampling of animals to demonstrate the absence of disease and thus gain recognition of disease freedom.
  • Supervise disinfection of IPs and the safe removal of infected carcases and material.

Scottish Government principal role

  • Ensure necessary legislation is in place.
  • Make and disseminate policy decisions.
  • Make and disseminate guidance and information on disease control.
  • Communicate with field staff and enforcement bodies (such as local authorities).
  • Handle policy issues, as well as share disease control developments with SGoR, NDCC, and other UK rural affairs departments.
  • Vaccination against FMD is not permitted unless authorised by Scottish Government.

Following suspicion of disease

  • A restriction notice will be served on the occupier of the premises and there will be a veterinary investigation.
  • If examination of animals cannot rule out FMD, then a Temporary Control Zone (TCZ) of 10 km will be imposed. For FMD, the Temporary Control Zone would restrict the movement of susceptible animals.
  • If the risk and suspicion were high, these restrictions could be extended to include non-susceptible animals, vehicles, certain personnel, and products likely to transmit disease on and off livestock holdings.
  • Disease may be confirmed within four hours of the sample arriving at the national reference laboratory in Pirbright, but in some circumstances it may take four days; consequently a negative result normally takes four days.

Following confirmation of disease

  • A GB-wide national movement ban may be implemented (through the introduction of a Restricted Zone), and an immediate ban on the export of animals, red meat and dairy products will also be applied.
  • An Infected Area, consisting of a Protection Zone (PZ) and Surveillance Zone (SZ) will be established.
  • The PZ will be at least 3 km in radius and centred around the IP, and the outer boundary of the SZ will be at least 10 km from the IP. The Restricted Zone will cover the rest of GB.
  • The Infected Area measures will include movement restrictions and enhanced biosecurity. Farmers in Infected Areas have to set up C&D points at their farm gates, but central C&D points will also have to be established.
  • Public access to land will be prevented in the PZ until there is a clear understanding of the source and extent of spread of disease (this may take around a week), but the countryside outside of that zone will be "open".
  • All animals on IPs and those considered to be Dangerous Contacts will be destroyed. The preferred methods of disposal of livestock will be by commercial rendering or incineration, but if disposal capacity is reached (particularly where outbreaks are large) then on-farm pyres may be used. Consideration will also be given to the control of vectors where applicable.
  • Rodent control may be implemented depending upon the level of infestation and risk to adjacent premises.

Control Zones that may be declared

Statutory Instrument: FMD(S) Order 2006 (No 44)

Zone: Temporary Control Zone (TCZ)

Stage declared: Suspicion

Area: Any size considered fit by Scottish Ministers (usually 10 km)

Controls: Article 15, 16, 17

Zone: Supplementary Movement Control Zone

Stage declared: Suspicion

Area: Any size considered fit by Scottish Ministers

Controls: Article 18, 19

Zone: Supplementary Movement Control Zone

Stage declared: Suspicion

Area: Any size considered fit by Scottish Ministers

Controls: Article 18, 19

Zone: Protection Zone (PZ)

Stage declared: Confirmation

Area: 3 km minimum

Controls: Article 30, 31, 33, Schedule 4 (part 1 and 2)

Zone: Surveillance Zone (SZ)

Stage declared: Confirmation

Area: 10 km minimum

Controls: Article 30, 31, 33 Schedule 4 (Part 1 and 3)

Zone: Restricted Zone

Stage declared: Confirmation

Area: Any size considered fit by Scottish Ministers (and at least the area of the vaccination zone, if declared)

Controls: Article 37, 38, Schedule 6

Zone: Wild Animal Infected Zone

Stage declared: Confirmation of disease in any wild animals GB

Area: Any size considered fit by Scottish Ministers

Controls: Article 39, 40


Email: Animal.Health@gov.scot

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