FOOT-AND-MOUTH disease is not of any particular risk to humans, stresses Steve Nicholson, an animal science specialist with the LSU AgCenter.

“The disease makes animals lame and causes them to lose their appetites,” the LSU AgCenter veterinary toxicology specialist says, adding, however, “It's certainly not like mad cow disease. Even if a person would, by some minute chance, eat meat from an animal infected with foot-and-mouth, that person wouldn't suffer any consequences.”

The reason the United States has taken the drastic step of banning nearly all animals and animal product imports from Europe is because foot-and-mouth disease is easily spread among susceptible animals, according to Nicholson. The move didn't result from any human health threat, he says.

“Foot-and-mouth disease is caused by one of several viruses,” explains the LSU AgCenter specialist. “The one in England right now is an old strain, and it apparently is transmitted very readily through the air.”

The disease affects cloven-hoofed animals such as cattle, sheep, goats and pigs.