Rapid risk assessment: Transmission of Foot and Mouth disease to humans visiting affected areas

Risk assessment

The risk of Foot and Mouth disease being transmitted to humans visiting affected areas is extremely low, if consumption of pasteurised milk, dairy products or unprocessed meat from infected animals and direct contact with such animals is avoided.
Specific EU requirements stipulate precautionary measures to mitigate the risk of animal disease, as defined in Commission Regulation (EC) No. 206/2009 of 5 March 2009 on the introduction into the Community of personal consignments of products of animal origin, amending Regulation (EC) No. 136/2004.

Executive summary

The risk for transmission of Foot and Mouth disease (FMD) to individuals visiting FMD affected areas is extremely low, if consumption of products from infected animals or direct contact with such  animals is avoided, concludes a ECDC rapid risk assessment issued today. As a general precaution, persons travelling to FMD-affected areas should avoid visiting farms and consuming unpasteurised milk, dairy or unprocessed meat from infected animals.

EU regulations should be enforced to mitigate the risk of disease transmission in animals, when importing live animals and animal products to the EU. Specific legal EU requirements are defined in the Commission Regulation (EC) No. 206/2009 on the introduction into the Community of personal consignments of products of animal origin and amending Regulation (EC) No. 136/2004.

Following recent FMD outbreaks in Libya, Malta has asked  ECDC to provide a risk assessment of the transmission of FMD to humans and the precautionary measures required both while visiting FMD affected areas (e.g. consumption of food) and upon return to Malta/EU (e.g. customs measures). In the past two months, thirteen FMD outbreaks have been reported to the OIE National Centre of Animal Health and Breeding Improvement in Tripoli, Libya.

FMD is essentially an animal disease and the disease in humans is considered very rare. It has been reported mainly in connection with the consumption of unpasteurised milk, dairy or unprocessed meat products or as a result of direct contact with infected animals. There has been no known person-to-person transmission in humans to date.