Insitute for Animal Health highlights potential flaw in past foot-and-mouth detection

Up to 390 farms confirmed as having foot-and-mouth disease in 2001 might not have had the disease, according to research by the Institute for Animal Health.

As part of its work to develop a new field test for the detection of F&M, the IAH performed retrospective tests on samples received from 1730 infected premises associated with the 2001 outbreak.

Using the newly-developed testing method it found no evidence of the virus in 23% (390) of samples. The results were published on 16 September in the Veterinary Record.

The new primary test, which is meant to be used as a herd or flock test, rather than an individual test, takes less than 20 minutes to perform.

It is based on similar technology used in domestic pregnancy tests and is successful about 80% of the time depending on the level of virus present. If the vet is still suspicious a second, more sensitive, test can be performed based on a different method.

David Paton, head of the VLA’s F&M reference laboratory at Pirbright, said: “These new tests will speed detection of infected animals while ensuring healthy animals are not mistakenly culled and hopefully bring any future outbreak to an end a lot sooner.

This is to the benefit of all, especially the farmer, his animals and the veterinary officer.”