Travelers can take preventative measures to keep disease out of U.S.

Agriculture Commissioner Susan Combs said that travelers to the United States from foot-and-mouth disease infected countries can take certain preventative steps to help prevent the accidental introduction of the highly contagious disease into the country. The U.S. Department of Agriculture requires that travelers must report all visits to farms or other livestock facilities in foot-and-mouth disease infected areas on the U.S. Customs Declaration Form when entering the country. In addition, all food items and other materials of plant and animal origin must be reported. In addition, certain meat, milk and animal products are prohibited from entering the United States from foot-and-mouth infected countries. USDA has established a toll-free number (1-800-601-9327) for travelers to call with questions on restrictions and regulations. Combs said there are other preventative measures that travelers to the United States can take. These include: ‘ Avoid farms, sale barns, stockyards, zoos, fairs or other animal facilities for five days prior to your return travel; ‘ Wash or dry clean all clothing and outerwear. All dirt and soil should be thoroughly removed from shoes before wiping with a cloth dampened with a bleach solution (five teaspoons of bleach in one gallon of water); ‘ Luggage and personal items, including watches, cameras, laptops and cell phones, should be wiped with a cloth dampened with a bleach solution; and ‘ Avoid contact with livestock or wildlife for five days after arrival in the United States. “Foot-and-mouth disease is an extremely contagious disease that would be devastating to the nation’s livestock industry and our wildlife,” Combs said. “We all need to do our part to protect the industry and keep the disease out of the United States.” The disease, characterized by fever and blister-like lesions, affects cattle, swine, sheep, goats, deer and other cloven-footed animals. As the nation’s leading producer of cattle, sheep and goats, Texas would be particularly hard hit by a foot-and-mouth disease outbreak. “The Texas cattle industry represents almost half of our state’s agricultural economy, and any outbreak would have a serious impact on the industry and our state’s economy,” Combs said.

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