Foot-and-Mouth Disease - Information for Travellers

Import Policies

Questions and Anwers

What is being done to prevent foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) from entering Canada?

Strict measures are in place to prevent FMD from entering Canada. For example, live animals are subject to comprehensive import controls. Only cooked, commercially prepared, hermetically sealed meat is allowed into Canada from countries that have FMD.

Travellers entering Canada are required to declare all foods, plants,animals and their products to a Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) officer. The CBSA plays a key role in protecting food safety, animal health, and the environment by screening travellers to make sure they understand the risk of importing inadmissible products and to ensure that they are complying with Canadian requirements. Border services officers also use specially trained detector dog teams in all major airports to seek out concealed food, plant, and animal products.

What do we mean by a FMD-infected country?

Any country that has at least one confirmed case of FMD would be considered infected. (Countries that are recognized by the CFIA as being free of FMD)

Are people and animals allowed to travel from FMD-infected countries to Canada?

Yes, people and their pets are free to travel, as long as they take appropriate precautions as recommended by the CFIA

Livestock and animal products such as fresh meat, embryos, semen, milk products, wool, hides and skins from susceptible species may not move from FMD-infected countries to Canada unless they have been processed in order to destroy the FMD virus.

If I travel in a country infected by FMD, what precautions should I follow?

The CFIA recommends that you:

  • Avoid visiting farms in countries infected with FMD. If you visited a farm while abroad, declare it to the CBSA. Make sure that the clothing and footwear you wore during your visit are free from soil or manure. Clean and disinfect your footwear. Dry cleaning of clothes is recommended.
  • Declare all meat, dairy or other animal products that you are bringing back to Canada to the CBSA.
  • Avoid contact with susceptible animals, including farm and zoo animals, and wildlife in national or provincial parks, for 14 days after returning to Canada.

Are pet dogs and cats allowed into Canada from FMD-infected countries?

Although domestic pets are not susceptible to FMD, the CFIA recommends taking precautions for pets travelling with you from a FMD-infected country. Once you return to Canada, wash your pet thoroughly with shampoo or soap and water to eliminate any virus that may be carried on it.

How can I disinfect my belongings?

To disinfect your clothes, you can machine wash them in hot water, or have them dry cleaned. To clean and disinfect footwear and other items, you can soak the items in the following solutions:

  • 50 percent water and 50 percent vinegar for 30 minutes;
  • 100 g of sodium carbonate (washing soda) per litre of water for 30 minutes; or
  • 2 g of citric acid powder per litre of water for 30 minutes.

When followed closely, these disinfection procedures are sufficient to kill the FMD virus.

What else is the CFIA doing to reduce the risk of bringing FMD virus into Canada?

The CFIA is monitoring the status of FMD worldwide and is working with other federal departments, provincial veterinary authorities, and industry to exchange information and raise awareness, as well as providing the public with information through its Web site.

How is FMD spread?

FMD is highly contagious. The virus can be spread to healthy livestock through:

  • direct or indirect contact with infected animals, the fluid from their blisters, their blood, saliva, milk or manure, or contact with surfaces (for example, trucks, loading ramps, and roads) where the virus is present;
  • feed made with ingredients derived from infected animals, or feed that has come into contact with infected animals;
  • contact with footwear, clothing or equipment contaminated with the virus;
  • contact with virus that has become airborne. Under favourable climatic conditions, FMD may be spread considerable distances by this route.

Can I contract FMD?

As a general rule, people do not get this disease. Under certain conditions, however, transmission to humans has occurred and results in no more than a light rash. FMD should not be confused with a different human disease called hand, Foot-and-mouth disease. You should consult your local health authority or your physician if you have any specific concerns.

I will be travelling to a FMD-infected country - can I bring any food products back?

The CFIA will allow entry into Canada only those products that have been subjected to an approved processing method. You must declare all food products upon arrival in Canada. As a general rule, meat and dairy products will not be allowed from an infected country, but foods that are cooked, shelf stable, commercially prepared and hermetically sealed may be permitted.

What happens if I do not declare any such products in my possession?

The CBSA can impose penalties of up to $400 on the spot if prohibited or restricted items are not declared. Individuals who are caught smuggling such items will have the product seized and could face further enforcement actions ranging from fines to prosecution in the criminal courts. False declarations to the CBSA are also punishable by law.

If I travel and am a farmer, do I have to respect the 5-day quarantine?

Contact with farm animals is not recommended for 5 days. If you are travelling to an FMD-infected country and returning to your farm, the CFIA's recommendations on cleaning and disinfection should be strictly followed.