Foot-and-mouth disease surveillance using pooled milk on a large-scale dairy farm in an endemic setting

Pooled milk is used for the surveillance of several diseases of livestock. Previous studies demonstrated the detection of foot-and-mouth disease virus (FMDV) in the milk of infected animals at high dilutions, and consequently, the collection of pooledmilk samples could be used to enhance FMD surveillance. This study evaluated pooled milk for FMDV surveillance on a large-scale dairy farm that experienced two FMD outbreaks caused by the A/ASIA/G-VII and O/ME-SA/Ind-2001d lineages, despite regular vaccination and strict biosecurity practices. FMDV RNA was detected in 42 (5.7%) of the 732 pooled milk samples, and typing information was concordant with diagnostic reports of clinical disease. The FMDV positive milk samples were temporally clustered around reports of new clinical cases, but with a wider distribution. For further investigation, a model was established to predict real-time RT-PCR (rRT-PCR) CT values using individual cattle movement data, clinical disease records and virus excretion data from previous experimental studies. The model explained some of the instances where there were positive results by rRT-PCR, but no new clinical cases and suggested that subclinical infection occurred during the study period. Further studies are required to investigate the effect of vaccination on FMDV excretion in milk, and to evaluate more representative sampling methods. However, the results from this pilot study indicate that testing pooled milk by rRT-PCR may be valuable for FMD surveillance and has provided evidence of subclinical virus infection in vaccinated herds that could be important in the epidemiology of FMD in endemic countries where vaccination is used.

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