The Pirbright Institute, as a key member of the Global Foot-and-Mouth Research Alliance , is hosting an international workshop on the early stages of the disease process (pathogenesis) caused by FMDV. Among the 55 experts from 19 countries who are attending the meeting on the 21st and 22nd of January at the IAH's Pirbright Laboratory are experts on FMDV pathogenesis, epidemiologists and systems biologists.
"A major output of this meeting will be to identify gaps in our knowledge of FMDV pathogenesis and transmission biology", says the workshop’s co-ordinator, the IAH’s Dr Bryan Charleston. FMD is much feared as the virus can spread extremely rapidly, has the potential to cause enormous losses and is the single most important constraint to international trade in livestock and animal products.
Understanding the early pathogenesis of FMDV is crucial not only to formulating effective control measures but also will help in the basic understanding of epidemiology and provide valuable information to inform predictive disease models. The cycle of infection in the individual animal is very short; infection is initiated, disseminated throughout the body and infectious virus produced in less than seven days.
"Detailed understanding of this cycle is crucial to effectively control disease in livestock populations. Improved understanding will inform the design of vaccines and antiviral therapies, and add more precision to disease transmission models, which will ultimately refine disease control protocols." says Dr Charleston.
IAH Pirbright has a major research programme on FMD, and is the World Reference Laboratory for FMD on behalf of the Food and Agriculture Organisation, and also for the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) and the EU.
FMD is a highly contagious, acute viral disease of cloven-hoofed, domesticated and wild animals, characterized by fever, loss of appetite, depression, lameness and the appearance of vesicles (fluid-filled blisters) on the feet and in, or around, the mouth. Spread of the virus can be controlled by early detection of new cases, slaughtering animals on affected farms, restricting the movement of animals and inanimate objects likely to have become contaminated with the virus as well as vaccination of susceptible hosts.