Union control measures are laid down in Council Directive 2003/85/EC. This Directive provides for measures to control and eradicate the disease with the aim to regain the disease and infection free status of the affected territory. The control measures are based on stamping-out of infected and in-contact herds, and on regional restrictions on the movement of susceptible animals and their products. Provisions are made for the use of emergency vaccination. To this end, the Union maintains one of the world's biggest antigen banks for express formulation of vaccines.
Member States are obliged to have contingency plans in operation and national reference laboratories must collaborate with the EU Reference Laboratory.
The European Commission is an active partner of the European Commission for the Control of Foot-and-Mouth Disease (EuFMD).
Further information can be found on the website of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations.
The 2001 Epidemic
- Main events and list of decisions adopted by the Commission
- ECOSOC's opinion
- The lessons from the crisis: International FMD Conference in Brussels 12-13 December 2001
- The new Directive: see Control measures above + press release
Information on other FMD outbreaks:
- Foot and mouth disease outbreak in the UK in 2007
- Foot and mouth disease outbreak in Bulgaria in 2011
Foot and mouth disease outbreak in the UK in 2007
Outbreaks in August
On Friday 3 August 2007 the UK authorities first confirmed a foot and mouth disease (FMD) outbreak in a beef finishing farm near Guildford, in Surrey. Measures in line with EU legislation, in particular Council Directive 2003/85/EC, were implemented by the UK authorities. All the cattle on the premises have been culled, a protection zone of three kilometres radius and a surveillance zone of 10 kilometres has been placed around the premises, and a GB wide national movement ban of all ruminants and pigs has been imposed.
The culling of the cattle on the infected enterprise in Surrey was completed the following day. This included the 38 cattle known to be infected, and the cattle on two additional sites, which together made up this same farming enterprise. The cattle on these two sites, both within the Surveillance Zone, showed no clinical signs of FMD but were culled in line with normal procedure and tested. Results revealed that one of the additional animals culled tested positive for FMD.
On Tuesday 7 August 2007 a second case of FMD was confirmed. The outbreak was located in the protection zone set up around the first outbreak. As part of their surveillance activity within the protection zone, the UK authorities identified a further herd of cattle with clinical signs of FMD. Laboratory testing confirmed the disease.
On Thursday 9 August the protection and surveillance zones were again slightly amended. This followed the positive test results from clinically healthy animals that were culled on Tuesday 7 August. Those cattle were culled because they were part of the second infected premises, kept on an additional site of the farm within the existing protection zone.
Since no further outbreaks were detected, on Friday 24 August 2007 the UK lifted the measures in the two protection zones. The area in the protection zones was merged with the area in the surveillance zones. The measures in the surveillance zone continued to apply in the merged zone.
Clinical inspections and serological testing in the combined surveillance zone were completed by the UK authorities. All results were negative. Therefore, on 8 September 2007 at midday, 30 days since the completion of preliminary cleansing and disinfection in the surveillance zone, the UK authorities lifted the measures relating to the surveillance zone.
Outbreaks in September
In the morning of 12 September 2007 the UK authorities notified to the Commission a new suspicion of foot and mouth disease in Surrey, approximately 50 km north of the previous outbreaks. An initial restriction zone was immediately put in place around the holding. The adoption by the Commission of the draft Decision that was endorsed by the SCoFCAH meeting on 11 September was, for this reason, suspended, awaiting further developments.
On 12 September in the afternoon the suspicion was confirmed by the UK authorities. Initial laboratory tests indicated the presence of FMD virus. On the basis of these initial laboratory results and the clinical symptoms FMD was confirmed. The farm comprised a number of separate parcels of land and a single protection zone was put in place of 3 km radius from each of them, and a surveillance zone of 10 kilometres radius beyond that.
On 14 September the UK authorities informed the Commission that laboratory results had confirmed an adjacent holding as positive for FMD as well. The animals on that holding had already been culled on 13 September because they were seen as a dangerous contact. Following this confirmation, the UK authorities enlarged the protection and surveillance zone in place. A detailed epidemiological investigation was put in place to determine the most likely cause of these outbreaks.
Between 18 and 30 September the UK confirmed 4 additional FMD outbreaks, all of them in the same area and within the protection zone established around the previous outbreaks. In total, the UK detected 8 outbreaks of FMD since the beginning of August 2007. Minor changes have been made to the border of the protection and surveillance zones.
FMD virus strain
The FMD virus strain by which the outbreak was caused was found to be most similar to strains used in international diagnostic laboratories and in vaccine production, including at the Pirbright site shared by the Institute of Animal Health (IAH) and Merial Animal Health Ltd, a pharmaceutical company. The present indications are that this strain is a 01 BFS67 – like virus, isolated in the 1967 Foot and Mouth Disease outbreak in Great Britain. The holding where the outbreak was detected is situated approximately 5 km from Pirbright.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) was asked by the Government to lead a team to investigate any potential breaches of biosecurity at the IAH and Merial sites; whether such breaches may have led to a release of any specified animal pathogen and whether any such breaches had been rectified to prevent future incidents. A multidisciplinary team was assembled with expertise in a wide range of relevant areas, including in investigation; in working with highly infectious viruses; in engineering control systems relevant to containment; in veterinary medicine production; and in management systems for controlling risk and environmental protection issues.
The multidisciplinary cross-government team with representatives from HSE, DEFRA, the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) and the Environment Agency (EA) supported by others, conducted on-site investigations on 5, 6 and 7 August and prepared an "Initial Report of potential breaches to bio-security at the Pirbright Site 2007" on 7 August.
The investigations into the August 2007 FMD outbreak were finalised. The final reports of the different investigations into the outbreak, and a UK Government statement in response, have been published and are available on the DEFRA website.
The Commission adopted on Monday 6 August 2007 Commission Decision 2007/552/EC concerning interim protection measures in relation to the FMD outbreak in the UK.
An emergency session of the former Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health (SCoFCAH, currently Animal Health and Welfare section of the Standing Committee on PAFF) was held in the afternoon of Wednesday 8 August 2007. The Member States unanimously supported a Commission proposal confirming the protection measures with regard to foot and mouth disease in the UK taken by the Commission on Monday 6 August. Decision 2007/554/EC, which repeals Decision 2007/552/EC, was adopted by the Commission on 9 August at 18h00 hours and published in the Official Journal on 10 August. It remained in force until 25 August 2007.
The Commission has called a further meeting of the Standing Committee on 23 August to review the evolution of the disease situation and the Decision. The Committee agreed that the restrictions provided for in Decision 2007/554/EC should apply until 15 September 2007 and that the high and low risk area should be limited to the area of the surveillance zone established in Surrey. The Member States unanimously supported a Commission proposal to that effect.
Decision 2007/588/EC was adopted by the Commission on 24 August and published in the Official Journal on 27 August.
The measures for the control of FMD in the UK have again been reviewed at the meeting of the SCoFCAH of 2/3 October 2007. Following the detection of the eighth outbreak the Committee endorsed a draft Decision amending Decision 2007/554/EC. Decision 2007/664/EC was adopted formally by the Commission on 12 October. It prolonged as well the applicability of Decision 2007/554/EC until 15 November 2007.
A further SCoFCAH meeting was organised in the morning of 19 October 2007 to review the evolution of the FMD disease situation in the UK. During the meeting, the Committee endorsed a proposal of the Commission to amend again Decision 2007/554/EC. Decision 2007/709/EC was adopted by the Commission on 31 October 2007 and published on 1 November in the Official Journal. It prolonged as well the applicability of Decision 2007/554/EC until 15 December 2007.
The measures for the control of FMD in the UK have again been reviewed at the meeting of the SCoFCAH of 6/7 November 2007. No further outbreaks have been detected since the end of September. During the meeting the Committee endorsed a proposal of the Commission to amend again Decision 2007/554/EC. This draft Decision will be adopted formally by the Commission before the end of November. It prolongs as well the applicability of Decision 2007/554/EC until 31 December 2007.
A further SCoFCAH meeting was organised in the afternoon of 18 September 2007 to review the evolution of the FMD disease situation in the UK. During the meeting the Committee endorsed a proposal of the Commission to amend slightly Decision 2007/554/EC.
Presentations given by the UK authorities during SCoFCAH meetings:
A presentation giving a Scottish perspective on the impact of FMD, including their movement controls and the detailed investigations undertaken by the authorities in Scotland into animal movements from a 50 kilometer zone around Pirbright to Scotland can be found here.
A chronology of the main events and actions taken by the Commission has been prepared and is updated on a regular basis.
- 3 August 2007: Foot and Mouth Disease outbreak confirmed in cattle in Surrey, England - UK authorities applying EC control measures
- 6 August 2007: Foot-and-Mouth Disease - Commission adopts Decision to reinforce measures in the UK
- 8 August 2007: Foot-and-Mouth Disease - Standing Committee approves Commission Decision maintaining measures for Great Britain
- 23 August 2007: Foot-and-Mouth Disease in GB - Standing Committee supports Commission Decision to reduce control measures to the surveillance zone around the 2 outbreaks
- 13 September 2007: Foot-and-Mouth Disease - UK confirms new outbreak. Disease control measures agreed
- 3 October 2007: Foot-and-Mouth Disease - Decision on Great Britain could be adapted as of 12 October subject to strict conditions
Foot and mouth disease outbreak in Bulgaria in 2011
Outbreaks in January - April
On Wednesday, 5 January 2011 the Bulgarian authorities confirmed a case of foot and mouth disease in one of 3 wild boars shot on 30 December 2010 in the area of Makevtci, on the land of Kosti village, municipality of Malko Tarnovo, Burgas region, around 2 km from the border with Turkey.
Bulgaria has implemented the measures provided for in Council Directive 2003/85/EC on Community measures for the control of foot-and-mouth disease. This measures provided in the Directive include epidemiological investigation, suspension of hunting and a ban in feeding wild animals, placing under official surveillance holdings keeping animals of susceptible species, inspection by an official veterinarian of all wild animals shot or found dead, surveillance programmes and prevention measures applicable to the holdings keeping animals of susceptible species and if necessary, in its surroundings, including the transport and movement of animals of susceptible species within, from and to the area, etc.
The Bulgarian authorities established a protection zone of 3 km and a surveillance zone of 10 km radius around Kosti and launched a sero-epidemiological surveillance programme within the surveillance zone and in all villages and settlements in the municipalities of Sredets, Malko Tarnovo and Tsarevo.
As a result of the sero-epidemiological investigations, the Bulgarian authorities on 9 January 2011 have detected antibody positive cases also in domestic animals and declared an outbreak in Kosti village, Tsarevo municipality. According to EU legislation the animals of susceptible species on the outbreak holdings have been culled and buried.
On 15 January 2011, mouth and feet lesions were found in cattle in Resovo village, Tsarevo municipality, located 22 km south-east of Kosti village, and the presence of FMD was subsequently confirmed by laboratory testing carried out on samples taken in that village.
Furthermore, on samples taken one incubation period of 21 days after the first sampling from FMD susceptible animals in the surveillance zone around Kosti, FMD was confirmed on 31 January 2011 in Gramatikovo village, Malko Tarnovo municipality, in previously antibody negative animals.
On 19 March 2011, Bulgaria reported a further outbreak (outbreak 4) in the west part of Strandja Mountain (3 km from the closest village – Kirovo) in the municipality of Sredets, in a herd of 143 beef cattle on fenced grass a larger number of animals displayed 4 - 5 days old lesions, reacted positive in an agent identification test (PCR) and negative in a test for the detection of antibodies.
On 23 March 2011, in the framework of routine clinical examinations, clinical signs of FMD were observed in a bovine herd in one of the villages in the 10 km surveillance zone – Granichar, at a distance of 6 km from outbreak 4 in Sredets municipality. On 24 March 2011 the National Reference Laboratory in Sofia confirmed the diagnosis (outbreak 5).
On 25 March 2011, the Bulgarian authorities informed the Commission about the confirmation of further FMD outbreaks in domestic animals in Sredets municipality on
- a cattle holding located nearby Goliamo Bukowo village (outbreak 6)
- a cattle and pigs holding located nearby Fakira village (outbreak 7)
- a cattle holding nearby Momina Tsarkva village (outbreak 8)
On 3 April 2011, Bulgaria reported new outbreaks (located within 10 km surveillance zone around outbreak 5) in Malko Tarnovo municipality on:
- 8 backyard holdings in Bliznak village (outbreak 9)
- a holding located 2 km apart from Bliznak village (outbreak 10)
Moreover, on 7 April 2011 further outbreak (outbreak 11) was reported by the Bulgarian authorities in domestic animals in Dolno Yabalkovo village, Sredets municipality, Burgas region (located in 3 km protection zone around outbreak 4).
All susceptible animals within 3 km of the infected premises were culled and those in the 3 to 10 km circle have been tested.
The Commission adopted on Thursday 6 January 2011, at 19h00, Decision 2011/8/EU concerning interim protection measures against foot-and-mouth disease in Bulgaria.
Following unanimous support from all the Member States at the meeting of the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health (SCoFCAH) on 12 January 2011, the Commission adopted on Wednesday 19 January 2011 at 11h00 Commission Decision 2011/44/EU concerning protection measures against foot-and-mouth disease in Bulgaria, repealing and replacing Commission Decision 2011/8/EU until March 31 (2011).
Due to the outbreak on 19 March 2011 in the municipality of Sredets, Burgas region the Commission with the support of the Member States amended Decision 2011/44/EU by Commission Implementing Decision 2011/198/EU concerning certain protection measures against foot-and-mouth disease in Bulgaria which extends its date of application until 30 June 2011.
As no new outbreaks of foot-and-mouth disease have been reported in Bulgaria since 7 April 2011 and surveillance carried out in the areas listed in Annex I and Annex II to Decision 2011/44/EU has not revealed foot-and-mouth disease infection in domestic animals of species susceptible to foot-and-mouth, the Commission with the support of the Member States amended Decision 2011/44/EU by Commission Implementing Decision 2011/388/EU of 29 June 2011 amending Decision 2011/44/EU concerning certain protection measures against foot-and-mouth disease in Bulgaria. This Decision reduces the size of the high-risk area to the municipalities of Malko Tarnovo and Tsarevo and part of Sredets, includes in the low-risk area the three surrounding municipalities of the Burgas region (Sozopol, Primorsko and part of Sredets) and in the region of Yambol (part of the municipality of Straldzha and the municipality of Bolyarovo), and extends the date of application of Decision 2011/44/EU until 30 September 2011.
The Commission will further review Decision 2011/44/EU, including during SCoFCAH meetings, in the light of evolution of the disease situation.
In accordance with Article 85(4) of Directive 2003/85/EC, Bulgaria submitted to the Commission for approval a plan for the control of foot-and-mouth disease in wildlife in Bulgaria. After being examined by the Commission and found to comply with Part B Annex XVIII to Directive 2003/85/EC, with the support of the Member States, the plan was approved by Commission Implementing Decision 2011/493/EU approving the plan for the eradication of foot-and-mouth disease in wild animals in Bulgaria (only the Bulgarian text is authentic). The plan covers parts of the regions of Burgas, Yambol and Haskovo (bordering Turkish Thrace) and describes the measures taken to eradicate the disease in the area defined as infected and the measures applied on the holdings in that area.
A chronology of the main events and actions taken by the Commission has been prepared and is updated on a regular basis.
7 January 2011: Commission adopts urgent protection measures after case in wild boar in Bulgaria
2 March 2011: Foot & Mouth Disease in Bulgaria: Commission partly lifts protection measures after successful implementation of EU rules
29 June 2011: Foot and Mouth Disease - Commission reduces area covered by measures in Bulgaria
Notification and Health Situation
Foot-and-mouth disease is a notifiable disease, according to Council Directive 82/894/EEC on the notification of animal diseases within the Community.
Description of the disease
Foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) is a highly contagious, usually non-fatal viral disease of domestic and wild cloven-hoofed animals, but may also affect certain other species. It is widely distributed throughout the world. Animals recovered from the disease may remain carriers of the infectious virus for an extended period of time. FMD is not dangerous to humans, but has a great potential for causing severe economic losses in susceptible animals.
Causative agent - FMD is caused by a non-enveloped Aphtovirus of the family Picornaviridae, existing in seven distinct serotypes of FMD virus, namely, O, A, C, SAT 1, SAT 2, SAT 3 and Asia 1, most of them with many more subtypes. Infection or vaccination with one serotype, or in some cases even a different sub-type of the same serotype, does not confer immunity against another.
Transmission - The virus is spread easily by animated and non-animated vectors, notably the incubating or clinically affected animal or its products, but may also spread airborne over substantial distances.
FMD, characterised by a vesicular condition of the feet, buccal mucosa and, in females, the mammary glands, cannot be differentiated clinically from other vesicular diseases.
Laboratory diagnosis, including isolation of the virus, detection of viral antigen or nucleic acid or of specific humoral antibody, of any suspected FMD case is therefore a matter of urgency.
Vaccination with the use of conventional vaccines protects from disease, but does not prevent infection and consequently a carrier state. The Community adopted therefore in 1990 a policy prohibiting the prophylactic vaccination against FMD.
Prevention - However, in order to further reduce the risk of incursion of the virus from endemic areas, the EU strengthened, at the same time, the controls at external borders and engaged considerable financial resources to assist third countries in its neighbourhood to control and eradicate the disease.
It is an OIE listed disease, according to the OIE Classification of Diseases of major importance. This means it is a transmissible disease that has the potential for very serious and rapid spread, irrespective of national borders, that is of serious socio-economic or public health consequence and that has major implication for the international trade in animals and animal products.