Foot and mouth can be carried by animals from cattle to elephants so we contacted a world-renowned expert at UNGA who explained the risk to people and dogs.
Foot and Mouth Disease
A word of caution by Professor Richard Fayrer-Hosken
First, a bit of background on Dr. Fayrer-Hosken. He was born in Gwelo, Southern Rhodesia and attained degrees at the University of Pretoria and Rhodes University in South Africa and speaks with a delightfully British accent. To say he is an expert in Zoology and Entomology might be an understatement. In addition to numerous awards including Theriogenologist of the Year and in Teaching Fellowships, he has received national acclaim for work in population control of the African Elephant and in Immunocontraceptive Elephant Research.
You may have seen him on television, either in the publicity spots for the University Of Georgia or in connection with some of the shows he has helped shoot and produce for the Discovery Channel and Animal Planet.
Having read that foot and mouth could be carried by a variety of animals including the elephant, we decided to contact a world-renowned elephant expert, Science and Advisory Board Member, Professor Fayrer-Hosken.
Dr. Richard is often out of the country or on lecture circuit but luckily we caught up with him en route to the Atlanta zoo where he is involved in a reproductive project on - you guessed it - Elephants.
We asked if it was true that rats, cats, and animals such as elephants could carry hoof and mouth disease as has been reported. He replied that they could probably carry the virus but would not be affected. He cautioned however;
“We must all play a role in taking responsibility for our animals. Awareness is the key. There are still a lot of significant diseases out there, anthrax for example.
"We should not relax vigilance over time even though some would pooh-pooh the whole thing or say it is only an isolated problem. All such problems are now part of the global interaction and it is through awareness, prevention, and containment that disease outbreaks are kept isolated.”
As a side note, it is interesting that we in the U.S. call it hoof and mouth disease, whereas the common term in the U.K. is “foot and mouth disease.” While not considered a huge risk today,
Dr. Erich Traub, a veterinarian/scientist/virologist brought to the U.S. under Operation Paperclip to work at the super secret Plum Island research on one of his specialties, foot and mouth disease.
Dr. Fayer-Hoskin is UNGA theriogenology professor and a member of TheDogPlace.org Science and Advisory Board and we thank him for taking time to explain the minimal risk of foot and mouth disease.
According to Mayo Clinic "Hand-foot-and-mouth disease isn't related to foot-and-mouth disease (sometimes called hoof-and-mouth disease), which is an infectious viral disease found in farm animals. You can't contract hand-foot-and-mouth disease from pets or other animals, and you can't transmit it to them."