This article is from the 1911 Encyclopaedia Britannica. Medical science has made many leaps forward since it has been written. This is not a site for medical advice, when you need information on a medical condition, consult a professional instead.
FOOT-AND-MOUTH DISEASE (Aphthous Fever, Epizootic Aphtha, Eczema Epizootica), a virulent contagious and inoculable malady of animals, characterized by initial fever, followed by the formation of vesicles or blisters on the tongue, palate and lips, sometimes in the nostrils, fourth stomach and intestine of cattle, and on parts of the body where the skin is thin, as on the udder and teats, between the claws, on the heels, coronet and pastern. The disease begins suddenly and spreads very rapidly. A rise of temperature precedes the vesicular eruption, which is accompanied by salivation and a peculiar "smacking" of the lips. The vesicles gradually enlarge and eventually break, exposing a red raw patch, which is very sensitive. The animal cannot feed so well as usual, suffers much pain and inconvenience, loses condition, and, if a milk-yielding creature, gives less milk, or, if pregnant, may abort. More or less lameness is a constant symptom, and sometimes the feet become very much diseased and the animal is so crippled that it has to be destroyed. It is often fatal to young animals. It is transmitted by the saliva and the discharges from the vesicles, though all the secretions and excretions are doubtless infective, as well as all articles and places soiled by them. This disease can be produced by injecting the saliva, or the lymph of the vesicles, into the blood or the peritoneal cavity.
If we were to judge by the somewhat vague descriptions of different disorders by Greek and Roman writers, this disease has been a European malady for more than 2000 years. But no reliance can be placed on this evidence, and it is not until we reach the 17th and 18th centuries that we find trustworthy proof of its presence, when it was reported as frequently prevailing extensively in Germany, Italy and France. During the 19th century, owing to the vastly extended commercial relations between civilized countries, it has, like the lung-plague, become widely diffused. In the Old World its effects are now experienced from the Caspian Sea to the Atlantic Ocean. Hungary, Lower Austria, Bohemia, Saxony and Prussia were invaded in 1834. Cattle in the Vosges and in Switzerland were attacked in 1837, and the disease extending to France, Belgium and Holland, reached England in 1839, and quickly spread over the three kingdoms (see also under Agriculture). At this time the importation of foreign animals into England was prohibited, and it was supposed that the infection must have been introduced by surplus ships' stores, probably sheep, which had not been consumed during the voyage. This invasion was followed at intervals by eleven distinct outbreaks, and since 1902 Great Britain has been free of foot-andmouth disease. From the observations of the best authorities it would appear to be an altogether exotic malady in the west of Europe, always invading it from the east; at least, this has been the course noted in all the principal invasions. It was introduced into Denmark in 1841; and into the United States of America in 1870, from Canada, where it had been carried by diseased cattle from England. It rapidly extended through cattle traffic from the state first invaded to adjoining states, but was eventually extinguished, and does not now appear to be known in North America. It was twice introduced into Australia in 1872, but was stamped out on each occasion. It appears to be well known in India, Ceylon, Burma and the Straits Settlements. In 1870 it was introduced into the Andaman Islands by cattle imported from Calcutta, where it was then prevailing, and in the same year it appeared in South America. In South Africa it is frequently epizootic, causing great inconvenience, owing to the bullocks used for draught purposes becoming unfit for work. These cattle also spread the contagion. It is not improbable that it also prevails in central Africa, as Schweinfurth alludes to the cattle of the Dinkas suffering from a disease of the kind.
Though not usually a fatal malady, except in very young animals, or when malignant, yet it is a most serious scourge. In one year (1892) in Germany, it attacked 150,929 farms, with an estimated loss to the owners of £7,50o,000 sterling.. It is transmissible to nearly all the domestic animals, but its ravages are most severe among cattle, sheep, goats and swine. Human beings are also liable to infection.
The treatment of affected animals comprises a laxative diet, with salines, and the application of antiseptics and astringents to the sores. The preventive measures recommended are, isolation of the diseased animals, boiling the milk before use, and thorough disinfection of all places and substances which are capable of conveying the infection.
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