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Diagnosis of Foot-and-Mouth Disease

This is a laboratory based course that is designed for laboratory staff or those who have a limited knowledge of foot-and-mouth disease virus (FMDV) and who will be responsible for implementing FMDV diagnostic techniques within the laboratory.  This course is not suitable for research or group leaders. The course focuses on FMDV diagnostic techniques including serological, molecular and virological methods of detection. Participants should have an understanding of virology and related methodologies.

What you need to know

Cost: The tuition fee for the course is £2,000. Once a place on the course has been confirmed, delegates will be required to pay a deposit of £1,000. Please note, we will only consider refunding this deposit upon proof of inability to attend the course due to ill health or visa denial - official documentation will be required (e.g. doctor's letter, Home Office communication etc).

Duration:  The course will run for 2 weeks (13 to 24 May 2024).

Accommodation: The Pirbright Institute has access to basic accommodation in shared houses at an additional cost of approximately £35 per night (excluding food).  The number of rooms is however limited and availability is on a first come first served basis and cannot therefore be guaranteed. The alternative is for course delegates to use local Bed & Breakfast accommodation which we can help to organise.  

Biosecurity:  The laboratory operates at BSL3 containment level and delegates will be expected to adhere to tight biosecurity regulations, including a strict three-day quarantine period and a shower upon exiting the laboratories daily. Further information will be provided.

Application deadline: 31 January 2024 (please note that places will be limited).

Course pre requisites

In order for delegates to benefit as much as possible from this training course, and to ensure their Health and Safety in the high containment facilities (BSL3) at The Pirbright Institute, all applicants are required to be able to demonstrate their ability in English language.  Where English is not the first language, a formal qualification is required. The standard is set as an overall IELTS score of 6.5 with no less than 6.0 in listening, reading and speaking and no less than 5.5 in writing. Alternative qualifications at a similar level are acceptable, e.g. TOEFL, CEF.

Participants requiring a visa to enter the UK will need a standard visitor visa.

Learning objectives

The course will provide a thorough understanding of current diagnostic techniques for FMDV. In addition, the course will discuss the clinical and pathological signs associated with FMDV infection, the current distribution of FMDV world-wide, transmission of FMDV, and molecular characterisation of FMDV. The course will be delivered through a series of seminars, an eLearning package, practical demonstrations and hands-on practical work in the BSL3 laboratory.

Course description

Topics to be discussed include:

Demonstrations and practicals on:

  • Sample receipt and preparation for FMD virus/antigen/genome detection
  • Use of cell cultures for FMD virus isolation
  • ELISA for FMD virus antigen detection
  • RT-PCR for FMD virus genome detection and VP1 sequencing
  • FMD virus antibody detection by non-structural protein (NSP) ELISA, liquid phase blocking ELISA (LPBE) and virus neutralisation test

Lectures and eLearning on:

  • Background introduction
  • Clinical (and differential diagnosis) of FMD
  • Epidemiology of FMD
  • Ageing of lesions
  • Problems with diagnosis in sheep
  • Laboratory diagnosis of FMD
  • Sample collection, packing and dispatch
  • Biosecurity and biosafety in the laboratory
  • Quality issues in laboratories dealing with FMD virus
  • ELISA practical problems
  • Sequencing of FMDV
  • FMDV strain characterisation – vaccine matching

Course material (USB stick and/or on-line) containing seminars and standard operating procedures will be provided at the end of the course.

About the trainers

The FMDV training course will be hosted by the World Reference Laboratory for FMD (WRL-FMD).

The WRL-FMD is responsible for the WOAH, FAO and national reference laboratory for FMDV.

How to apply

Email your completed application form to

Past participants' comments

“Overall I thought the course was fantastic, with really good input from all of the tutors giving great suggestions for the hands on testing.”

“I would like to congratulate you because the course is well organised, and you can tell that the tutors have a lot of experience working with FMDV and moreover all of you have been very friendly.”

“…Pirbright supplies Uganda with FMD diagnostic kits. Through this course we have learnt where there are gaps in our SOPs and we are certain that our kits will now work effectively.”

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