February 23, 2017


Vaccination can control FMD outbreak quickly - study


Vaccinations can control future outbreaks of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) effectively and quickly, thus saving millions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of livestock, according to research findings of the University of Warwick in the UK.


Dr Michael Tildesley and Naomi Bradbury, of the university's School of Life Sciences, have discovered that a key issue for successfully containing and eradicating an FMD outbreak is to establish how many animals can be vaccinated per day of an outbreak, and tailor controls accordingly.


FMD is an infectious and sometimes fatal viral disease that affects cloven-hoofed animals.


Using a mathematical model of the UK farming landscape, Dr Tildesley and colleagues simulated numerous scenarios of infection (varied levels of severity and speed), calculating the most effective and efficient approaches to stave the spread of the disease.


According to them, many dangerous uncertainties exist when dealing with epidemics like FMD, such as: the efficacy of vaccinations, the time it takes for livestock to become immune after receiving vaccines, and the number of vaccine doses available. "Uncertainty leads to huge potential losses of both money and livestock", they said.


Major uncertainty


The Warwick FMD model demonstrates that the major uncertainty to be resolved is how many vaccine doses are available. If this is known, the infection can be contained efficiently - even when faced with all other unknown factors, according to the research's findings.


Using the Warwick FMD model and confirming what vaccination capacity exists, the UK could save up to £50 million (US$62.23 million), and around 200,000 animals could be spared from culling in any future epidemic, the researchers said.


Any outbreak using such tailored vaccination can also generally be eradicated almost a week sooner than previous outbreaks, they added.


"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", Tildesley said.

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