Livestock News

U.S. now more prepared against Foot-and-Mouth Disease

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Animal health first responders now have an important tool in their hands to mitigate the potentially catastrophic economic and animal welfare impacts of a Foot-and-Mouth Disease outbreak on U.S. soil. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate (DHS S&T) has announced the licensing of a rapid-response (three-hour) Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD) diagnostic kit by the USDA Center for Veterinary Biologics (CVB).

Developed by a large research consortium of federal agencies, academia, and animal health industry scientists, this is the first licensed FMD diagnostic kit that can be manufactured on the U.S. mainland, critical for a rapid response in the event of a FMD outbreak.  The high-performance test can be used for cattle, swine, and sheep, and will be commercialized and sold by Veterinary Medical Research and Development (VMRD), Inc., a U.S. manufacturer of veterinary diagnostics.

“This assay will be a pivotal tool for U.S. emergency preparedness and response and for ensuring the resiliency of U.S. animal agriculture, a critical infrastructure” said DHS Under Secretary (Acting) William N. Bryan.  “Successfully bringing this test to market exemplifies the type of public-private partnership among DHS S&T, Centers of Excellence, government labs, and commercial industry necessary to support U.S. agriculture and global FMD control and eradication programs.”

FMD virus is highly contagious in cloven-hoofed animals, including: cattle, pigs, small ruminants. Globally, FMD has a significant impact on livestock trade economics and extensive regulatory programs exist in the U.S. to facilitate identification of, response to, and control of the disease. With one in nine Americans employed in the agriculture or allied industries, the effects of an FMD outbreak in the U.S. would be devastating ­– estimated at nearly $200 billion in lost revenue over 10 years across affected industries.

This rapid, specific, and sensitive FMD diagnostic assay was developed and validated over a seven year period by a consortium of scientists at Texas A&M University and the Institute for Infectious Animal Diseases in College Station, Texas (a DHS S&T Center of Excellence); DHS S&T’s Plum Island Animal Disease Center, USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Foreign Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory, and USDA Agricultural Research Service Foreign Animal Disease Research Unit; and through a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement with VMRD, Inc. Funding was provided by the Agriculture Defense Branch of DHS S&T’s Chemical and Biological Defense Division and DHS S&T Office of University Programs. DHS S&T has also granted an intellectual property license to VMRD, Inc. for the test and a patent application has been filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

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