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Novel method for less invasive foot-and-mouth testing
Foot-and-mouth disease costs an estimated US $11 billion per year in direct losses and vaccinations.

Study highlights potential of analysing milk from storage tanks

A novel, less-invasive method of carrying out testing for foot-and-mouth-disease virus (FMDV) has been developed by researchers at The Pirbright Institute.

Writing in the journal Veterinary Methodology, researchers describe the technique, which involves using milk from bulk tanks or milk tanks. Their results suggest that testing milk samples could aid disease surveillance before and after disease outbreaks.

Foot-and-mouth disease costs an estimated US $11 billion per year in direct losses and vaccinations. When outbreaks occur in countries that are usually FMDV-free, the impact is particularly devastating.

Control of FDMV is reliant on the rapid and accurate detection of the virus. Current tests often use blood or tissue samples, which can be invasive and require the expertise of an animal health professional.

Researchers say the new method could be applied to disease surveillance in dairy herds, as testing of milk tanker samples could be sensitive enough to identify an infected cow in herds of up to 1000 individuals.

The test produces a result in as little as four hours and can identify the virus up to 28 days after the animal becomes infected - far longer than what is afforded by traditional methods. Researchers say this makes it a promising surveillance tool for use during potential outbreaks in FMDV-free countries.

Sampling from milk storage tanks also eliminates the need to test animals individually and does not require a veterinary surgeon to be called out for sampling. As such, this reduces the cost of testing and prevents animals from getting stressed.

“Milk is already used as a surveillance tool for a number of diseases, such as bovine viral diarrhoea and brucellosis, so it makes sense to investigate this approach for the detection of FMDV,” said Bryony Armson, first author of the research. “We were able to detect virus in milk from FMD infected cows during a real outbreak, and virus could be detected for a longer period in milk than in serum.

“We have also shown this FMD detection method can detect the virus in dilutions equivalent to those that would be present in bulk milk storage, highlighting the potential for milk to be used as a surveillance sample.”

The study was conducted with partners at the USDA Animal Plant Health Inspection Service Foreign Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory, USA. 

Image (C) The Pirbright Institute

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Nominations for 2019 RSPCA Honours Awards now open

News Story 1
 People across the UK are being urged to nominate a standout animal champion for the 2019 RSPCA Honours Awards.

The awards recognise those who have worked tirelessly to improve animal welfare, campaigned on behalf of animals, or shown true bravery. Previous winners include comedian John Bishop, who was awarded Celebrity Animal Champion of the Year, and 11-year-old Lobby Cantwell, who raised more than £1,000 for the charity through mountain climbs and bike rides.

To submit a nomination or find out more about the awards visit the RSPCA website. Nominations will remain open until 4 pm on Friday, March 15.  

Click here for more...
News Shorts
New £1m project to investigate dairy cow lameness

Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) is leading a new £1 million research project to investigate the causes of lameness in dairy cows.

One in three dairy cows are affected by lameness every day in the UK, costing the industry an estimated £250 milion annually.

The project will take three years to complete and is due to finish by November 2021.

Professor Georgios Banos of SRUC commented: “In addition to pain and discomfort to the animal, lameness is associated with decreased milk production and inflated farm costs.

“Among cows raised in the same environment, some become lame while others do not. Understanding the reasons behind this will help us develop targeted preventive practices contributing to enhanced animal welfare and farm profitability.”