Foot-and-mouth disease

Foot-and-mouth virus

Foot-and-mouth disease

Foot-and-mouth disease

Legal Status: Notifiable Organism
Status in New Zealand: Not in New Zealand
Organism: Micro-organism

This disease is NOT in New Zealand

OIE (World Organisation for Animal Health) official animal health status for FMD (offsite link to

General information

Foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) is a highly contagious viral disease. It affects all cloven-hoofed animals (with hooves split into two toes) such as cattle, sheep, pigs, goats and deer. It does not affect horses, dogs, cats or poultry. It very rarely infects humans and is not considered a threat to human health.

To date, New Zealand has never had an outbreak of FMD. Due to our geographical isolation and strict border controls, the risk of it arriving here is low. However, because it is highly contagious and risk can never be eliminated, there is always the possibility of an outbreak here. In recent years, the United Kingdom, Japan and the Republic of Korea have had FMD outbreaks, and FMD is now well-established in many parts of Africa, Asia, the Middle East and South America.

An outbreak of FMD in New Zealand would seriously impact New Zealand’s economy through the suspension of all trade in animal products and major disruption to primary industry businesses (such as farms, animal product processing businesses, rural contracting businesses and transport).

Countries and zones free from FMD (offsite link to

The policy approach of the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is to take all precautions to:

  • keep FMD out of New Zealand;
  • completely eradicate or stamp out the disease if it arrives; and
  • prove and reinstate the country’s FMD-free status as soon as possible following eradication.

Animal mouth lesions

In brief, FMD produces symptoms in animals that include:

  • a high fever for two or three days;
  • mouth and foot blisters;
  • lameness;
  • general ill health and depression;
  • excess salivation and drooling;
  • limping.

Early detection of an FMD outbreak is vital to ensure a rapid response, eradication and resumption of trade in animal products. MPI’s Exotic Pest and Disease Hotline is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week for the reporting of suspect FMDcases.

Report suspected FMD immediately to the MPI Exotic Disease and Pest Hotline on 0800 80 99 66.

Page last updated: 5 March 2015

Relevant Resources