In response to the Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) outbreak in the United Kingdom, travelers to the United States from England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland need to take steps to help prevent the accidental introduction of the disease into this country.
FMD is not considered a human health risk but humans can carry the virus on their clothing, shoes, body (particularly the throat and nasal passages) and personal items. The disease is extremely contagious and spreads easily among cloven hoofed animals such as cattle, sheep, pigs, goats and deer. Introduction of FMD into this country would be disastrous to the American livestock industry and wildlife community. For this reason all visits to farms or other livestock facilities in the U.K. and all food items and other materials of plant or animal origin in the traveler's possession must be reported on the U.S. Customs Declaration Form upon entering the country. Please understand that foodstuffs brought from countries where FMD is present can serve as a source of infection, as the virus may persist in these foods even after preparation or processing.
The following preventive measures should be taken by travelers to the United States from the United Kingdom:
- While abroad, avoid farms, sale barns, stockyards, animal laboratories, packing houses, zoos, fairs or other animal facilities for 5 days prior to travel.
- Before leaving the U.K., launder or dry-clean all clothing and outerwear. All dirt and soil should first be removed from shoes by thorough cleaning and then wiped with a cloth dampened with a bleach solution (6 teaspoons or 2 tablespoons of household bleach in 1 gallon of water). Luggage and personal items (including watches, cameras, laptops, CD players and cell phones) if soiled should be wiped with a cloth dampened with a bleach solution.
- Upon returning to the U.S., avoid any contact with livestock or wildlife for a full 5 days. Extra precautionary measures should be taken by people traveling from farms in the U.K. to visit or work on farms in the U.S. It is advisable that employers or sponsors provide arriving travelers with a clean set of clothing that can be worn after the visitor showers and shampoos thoroughly. Visitor's traveling clothes should be laundered or dry-cleaned immediately. Off-farm activities should be scheduled for the visitor's first 5 days in-country and contact with livestock or wildlife should be strictly avoided.
For more information about international travel and animal disease, see the USDA home page on the web. Click on Passenger Travel Information and also on Animal Travel Web
The USDA will also answer FMD related questions at 1-800-940-6524
If you have further questions about foot-and-mouth disease, contact the Division of Animal Health at 617-626-1795.