Andrew M. Cuomo, Governor | Richard A. Ball, Commissioner
Jessica Ziehm

June 03, 2010

Commissioner: Use Precaution to Prevent Foreign Animal Diseases

Reminder of Preventative Measures in Light of Recent Foot-and-Mouth Outbreak Overseas

New York State Agriculture Commissioner Patrick Hooker today urged farmers and international travelers to increase their awareness of the need to keep foreign animal diseases out of New York State and the United States.   The recent presence of Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD) in Japan, Korea and elsewhere in Asia and Africa warrants renewed vigilance of New York’s farm and livestock community. 

“Although there is no human health risk involved and the current outbreak is oceans away, we can never be too cautious when safeguarding our livestock and livelihoods from a foreign animal disease such as Foot-and-Mouth Disease,” the Commissioner said.  “The current outbreak in Japan of this very serious and highly contagious disease should be a wake-up call to all of our livestock producers, as well as the businesses that serve them.  We all need to be aware of the severity and negative impact a disease as such would have on our industry if it arrived here; and if you haven’t already implemented the basic preventative measures on your farm, this is a reminder to do so.”

Todd Johnson, DVM, Area Emergency Coordinator for USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service’s (APHIS) Veterinary Services, said, “This is yet another opportunity to learn from the unfortunate experience of others that an ounce of prevention can be worth more than a pound of cure.   When preventive measures fail, however, awareness and early detection are essential for a rapid response and containment.  Everyone should be aware of when to be suspicious and what to do when they are...learn to recognize, report and respond.”

There are several simple, yet important precautions farmers can implement or follow to greatly reduce the chance of introduction or spread of a foreign animal disease.  To assist farmers and help ensure a safe and healthy livestock population in the State, the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets has 14 veterinarians and the U.S. Department of Agriculture has nine in New York, who are trained to recognize and respond to potential foreign animal disease outbreaks.  There are also several hundred large animal veterinarians in the State who work closely with producers, and who continually monitor animals for signs of foreign animal diseases.

Following are the precautions farmers and international travelers can take to help prevent a foreign animal disease, such as Foot-and-Mouth from entering New York farms.  There are also fact sheets available at and that detail additional measures farmers can take. 

  • International travelers should always declare to customs if they have been on a farm, in contact with livestock, and if they have any meat, dairy and other animal products in their possession.
  • Whenever a new animal moves onto a farm, be sure that both the health status and the origin of the animal are known.
  • If possible, new animals or returning animals should be separated from the rest of the herd for at least two weeks. 
  • When possible, exclude foreign visitors from your farm for at least five days after arrival in the United States.
  • Ask foreign visitors to provide information about recent farm visits and animal contacts.
  • Clothing worn on farms in other countries should always be washed and footwear should be disinfected before entering your farm. 
  • Do not allow animal products, clothes, luggage, cameras and other items from affected countries onto your farm.
  • Discourage walking through feed mangers and any physical contact of animals by foreign visitors.
  • Farms with swine must be aware that feeding restaurant or food service waste, “garbage feeding,” is illegal in New York and is also a high risk practice in regard to the introduction or spread of Foot-and-Mouth Disease.
  • Farms should have one common entrance/exit with disposable boots or a disinfectant footbath provided.
  • All footwear should be disinfected before entering and after leaving an animal housing area.
  • Keep vehicles, such as milk, feed and livestock trucks, from driving through areas where animals are housed or feed is stored.


            Foreign animal diseases are those illnesses affecting livestock that are not currently present in the U.S.  In general, they are marked by rapidly spreading illness, high mortality in a short time, and unusual signs of illness.  Examples of foreign animal diseases include Classical Swine Fever, Exotic Newcastle Disease in chickens, Rinderpest in cattle and Screw worm that can be found in any mammal.

Foot-and-Mouth Disease, which was recently detected in Japan is the most severe foreign animal disease from an economic perspective and has resulted in thousands of animals being destroyed and many countries to limit or cease agricultural imports from the country.  To date in Japan, approximately 36,000 swine and 2,600 cattle have already been destroyed due to potential exposure to Foot-and-Mouth Disease.  Additionally, all pigs, beef cattle and dairy cows in the affected areas will be culled in coming days, raising the number destroyed to about 205,000. 

Usually the first sign of Foot-and-Mouth Disease is fever, however blisters and ulcers on the tongue and lips, in the mouth, on the teats, and between the hooves, are typically the first signs actually noticed in sick animals.  Foot-and-Mouth Disease is a highly transmissible viral disease of cattle, swine, sheep, goats, deer and other cloven-hoofed animals. While only occasionally fatal in adult animals, the disease leaves animals debilitated and causes severe losses in the production of milk and meat due to severe lameness and difficulty eating and drinking due to characteristic mouth lesions. 

New York’s livestock industry makes up more than half of the state’s agricultural industry sales, contributing over $2.7 billion to the state’s economy last year.  New York State is home to more than 1.45 million cows, 80,000 swine and 67,000 sheep, all of which are susceptible to FMD if it were introduced here in the United States.

2010 Press Releases