Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

FP6

FMD_IMPROCON — Result In Brief

Project ID: 503603
Funded under: FP6-POLICIES
Country: Belgium

Alternative to culling for foot and mouth disease

Foot and mouth disease (FMD) is a highly infectious viral disease found in cattle, sheep, goats and pigs. The EU-funded FMD_Improcon project investigated new approaches that support the European Commission’s new policy for controlling the threat of FMD.
Alternative to culling for foot and mouth disease
Traditionally, FMD has been controlled through the large-scale culling of livestock, which can have a devastating impact on the economy of rural areas. The European Commission addressed the culling issue and changed its policy towards future FMD control by making emergency vaccination easier to implement. The vaccination was to be carried out in combination with screening for residual infection using tests for antibodies to non-structural proteins (NSPs).

The FMD_Improcon project studied the validation of NSP-based tests for distinguishing between infected and vaccinated animals and helped in the implementation of the new policy. The validation of existing and new NSP tests as confirmatory tests was extremely important as the availability of suitable diagnostic tests underpins the EU’s policy for FMD control.

Researchers focused on marker vaccines for encouraging lasting protection against the FMD virus. The marker vaccine enabled scientists to differentiate between infected and vaccinated livestock, thereby confirming whether the animal was genuinely infected and in need of treatment.

Scientists also investigated improvements to vaccine strain selection and increased their knowledge of the immune system, resulting in a greater understanding of mucosal immune responses and dendritic cell targeting of the FMD vaccines.

Success of the FMD_Improcon project means that other approaches are available for dealing with a FMD outbreak other than resorting to a mass cull of farm animals. This will give greater hope to livestock farmers who fear the loss of their entire herd should any of their animals be found to be infected with the virus.

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