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Understanding environmental and airborne transmission to reduce FMD - SE2722

Rapid detection of outbreaks is essential for effective control of foot-and-mouth disease virus (FMDV) outbreaks. Current methods for detecting FMDV-infected animals or farms typically rely on recognising animals showing clinical signs of disease. However, clinical surveillance is time-consuming and delays in detection and reporting can compromise the effectiveness of control measures.

As part of Defra-funded research projects at The Pirbright Institute, improved approaches to identify virus circulation in high-risk herds/farms using herd-level sampling have been developed. Specifically, we have developed methods to detect FMDV in a contaminated environment and in aerosol samples, initially applied in the isolation facilities at The Pirbright Institute (Defra-funded project SE2815) and, subsequently, in the field in Nepal (Defra-funded project SE2816). Aerosol or environmental samples can both potentially be used to detect FMDV on farms without the need to sample individual animals. These methods also utilise samples that are quick to collect and diagnostic tests that are quick to perform. More importantly, they allow infected farms to be identified prior to the appearance of clinical signs in livestock.

The key impacts of the proposed research are:

(i) The development of methods for rapid and early detection of FMDV-infected farms in the UK that can be applied at the herd level. This will allow earlier interruption of the transmission cycle resulting in smaller, shorter outbreaks and with fewer animals being culled, thereby reducing the cost of an outbreak. In addition, the methods will limit the requirement for pre-emptive slaughter of animals on these farms that are not infected with FMDV.

(ii) Understanding virus emissions will allow us to better predict airborne spread and risk of transmission by this route. This will improve existing outbreak management tools that assess the risk of airborne spread between farms and prioritise farms for surveillance.
OBJECTIVE 1: Environmental and air sampling for FMDV (Pirbright)
OBJECTIVE 2: Design of surveillance based on environmental sampling for FMDV (Pirbright)
OBJECTIVE 3: Characterising FMDV aerosols on farms (Pirbright, Met Office)
OBJECTIVE 4: Airborne transmission (Met Office)
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2019

To: 2022

Cost: £1,491,751
Contractor / Funded Organisations
IAH - Institute for Animal Health
Fields of Study
Animal Health