Phylo-epidemiology of foot-and-mouth disease virus and related picornaviruses of ruminants

Lead Research Organisation: The Pirbright Institute
Department Name: UNLISTED


The role of carrier animals in the epidemiology of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) is controversial. Although such animals are considered a risk for the spread of FMD virus (FMDV) and hence cause a major barrier to international trade, the levels of virus that domesticated ruminants carry in their pharynx are low and transmission to cohort animals has not been achieved experimentally. In contrast, for the Southern African Territories (SAT) serotypes of FMDV there is considerable evidence that persistence in African buffalo (Syncerus caffer) is associated with transmission and initiation of new infections in both buffalo and cattle. The aims of the project are to investigate the role of carrier animals in spreading FMD in endemically affected areas in order to better quantify the risk they pose. In the case of buffalo, we intend to correlate their distribution in Central Africa to the occurrence of different FMDV serotypes in livestock species. Serum samples from buffalo in this region will be analysed to determine prevalence of antibodies to different FMDV serotypes. Through collaboration, virus isolates from buffalo will be obtained. An existing panel of virus isolates from Zimbabwe buffalo and cattle will be analysed for the relationships between viruses in the two species as an indicator of intra- and inter-species spread.
IAH has isolates of bovine rhinovirus (BRV) types 1, 2 and 3 that are related to FMDV. These viruses have been very little studied and neither their pathogenesis or prevalence are known. An antigenic cross-reaction has been reported between FMDV and BRV-2 raising concerns about the possibility of serological cross-reactions, especially when using conserved non-structural proteins as test antigens. The aim of this work is to complete the genetic characterisation of the viruses as a precursor to seek funding and collaborators to undertake PCR-based and serological surveys.


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