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BRUSSELS OFFICE : +32 (0)2 895 5709

Vaccination strategies can contain FMD

17/02/17Health

Foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) outbreaks can be controlled rapidly and effectively by quickly determining how many animals can be vaccinated each day of an outbreak.

This is according to researchers at the University of Warwick, UK, who used a mathematical model to simulate future UK outbreaks and calculate the most successful way to halt the spread of infection.

They found that the major uncertainty to be resolved when dealing with an FMD outbreak is how many vaccine doses are available. If this is known, the infection can be contained efficiently – even when all other unknown factors are taken into account.

The researchers estimate that this finding could eradicate FMD close to a week sooner than in previous outbreaks.

It could also result in savings of up to £50m (~€58m) and spare some 200,000 animals from culling.

Approximately seven million animals were killed during the 2001 FMD outbreak. The cost to the UK economy was estimated at £8bn.

“There is always uncertainty in the likely effectiveness of any control strategy for an infectious disease outbreak. However, in the case of FMD, if we can accurately determine the daily capacity to vaccinate animals, we can potentially save millions of pounds for the farming industry,” said researcher Dr Michael Tildesley, of the university’s School of Life Sciences.

This research has been published in the journal PLOS Computational Biology. It was carried out in collaboration with Pennsylvania State and Vanderbilt universities, US, and the United States Geological Survey, and funded by the UK’s Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council and the US National Institutes of Health.