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Concept: Foot-and-mouth disease


Vesicular stomatitis (VS) is endemic in Central America and northern regions of South America, where sporadic outbreaks in cattle and pigs can cause clinical signs that are similar to foot-and-mouth disease (FMD). There is therefore a pressing need for rapid, sensitive and specific differential diagnostic assays that are suitable for decision making in the field. RT-LAMP assays have been developed for vesicular diseases such as FMD and swine vesicular disease (SVD) but there is currently no RT-LAMP assay that can detect VS virus (VSV), nor are there any multiplex RT-LAMP assays which permit rapid discrimination between these ‘look-a-like’ diseases in situ. This study describes the development of a novel RT-LAMP assay for the detection of VSV focusing on the New Jersey (VSNJ) serotype, which has caused most of the recent VS cases in the Americas. This RT-LAMP assay was combined in a multiplex format combining molecular lateral-flow devices for the discrimination between FMD and VS. This assay was able to detect representative VSNJV and the limit of detection of the singleplex and multiplex VSNJV RT-LAMP assays were equivalent to laboratory based real-time RT-PCR assays. A similar multiplex RT-LAMP assay was developed to discriminate between FMDV and SVDV, showing that FMDV, SVDV and VSNJV could be reliably detected within epithelial suspensions without the need for prior RNA extraction, providing an approach that could be used as the basis for a rapid and low cost assay for differentiation of FMD from other vesicular diseases in the field.

Concepts: Assay, Aphthovirus, Foot-and-mouth disease, Laboratory techniques, South America, Animal virology, Americas, Swine vesicular disease


We designed a series of epitope proteins containing the G-H loops of three topotypes of foot-and-mouth disease virus (FMDV) serotype O and promiscuous artificial Th sites and selected one epitope protein (designated as B4) with optimal immunogenicity and cross-reactivity. Three out of five pigs immunized intramuscularly with this B4 were protected against virulent FMDV challenge after a single inoculation, while all pigs co-immunized with B4 and polyinosinic-cytidylic acid [poly (I: C)] conferred complete protection following FMDV challenge. Additionally, we demonstrated that all pigs co-immunized with B4 and poly (I: C) elicited FMDV-specific neutralizing antibodies, total IgG antibodies, typeIinterferon (IFN-α/β) and cytokines IFN-γ. In contrast, some pigs immunized with B4 alone produced parameters mentioned above, while some not, suggesting that poly (I: C) reduced animal-to-animal variations in both cellular and humoral responses often observed in association with epitope-based vaccines and up-regulated T-cell immunity often poorly observed in protein-based vaccines. We propose that poly (I: C) is an effective adjuvant for this epitope-based vaccine of FMDV. This combination could yield an effective and safe candidate vaccine for the control and eradication of FMD in pigs.

Concepts: Immune system, Antibody, Protein, Vaccination, Immunology, Smallpox, Aphthovirus, Foot-and-mouth disease


Virus capsids are primed for disassembly, yet capsid integrity is key to generating a protective immune response. Foot-and-mouth disease virus (FMDV) capsids comprise identical pentameric protein subunits held together by tenuous noncovalent interactions and are often unstable. Chemically inactivated or recombinant empty capsids, which could form the basis of future vaccines, are even less stable than live virus. Here we devised a computational method to assess the relative stability of protein-protein interfaces and used it to design improved candidate vaccines for two poorly stable, but globally important, serotypes of FMDV: O and SAT2. We used a restrained molecular dynamics strategy to rank mutations predicted to strengthen the pentamer interfaces and applied the results to produce stabilized capsids. Structural analyses and stability assays confirmed the predictions, and vaccinated animals generated improved neutralizing-antibody responses to stabilized particles compared to parental viruses and wild-type capsids.

Concepts: Immune system, Protein, Microbiology, Virus, Vaccine, Vaccination, Aphthovirus, Foot-and-mouth disease


Foot-and-mouth disease outbreaks in non-endemic countries can lead to large economic costs and livestock losses but the use of vaccination has been contentious, partly due to uncertainty about emergency FMD vaccination. Value of information methods can be applied to disease outbreak problems such as FMD in order to investigate the performance improvement from resolving uncertainties. Here we calculate the expected value of resolving uncertainty about vaccine efficacy, time delay to immunity after vaccination and daily vaccination capacity for a hypothetical FMD outbreak in the UK. If it were possible to resolve all uncertainty prior to the introduction of control, we could expect savings of £55 million in outbreak cost, 221,900 livestock culled and 4.3 days of outbreak duration. All vaccination strategies were found to be preferable to a culling only strategy. However, the optimal vaccination radius was found to be highly dependent upon vaccination capacity for all management objectives. We calculate that by resolving the uncertainty surrounding vaccination capacity we would expect to return over 85% of the above savings, regardless of management objective. It may be possible to resolve uncertainty about daily vaccination capacity before an outbreak, and this would enable decision makers to select the optimal control action via careful contingency planning.

Concepts: Epidemiology, Vaccine, Vaccination, Economics, Decision theory, Management, Foot-and-mouth disease, Outbreak


Foot-and-mouth disease virus (FMDV) is a significant economically and distributed globally pathogen of Artiodactyla. Current vaccines are chemically inactivated whole virus particles that require large-scale virus growth in strict bio-containment with the associated risks of accidental release or incomplete inactivation. Non-infectious empty capsids are structural mimics of authentic particles with no associated risk and constitute an alternate vaccine candidate. Capsids self-assemble from the processed virus structural proteins, VP0, VP3 and VP1, which are released from the structural protein precursor P1-2A by the action of the virus-encoded 3C protease. To date recombinant empty capsid assembly has been limited by poor expression levels, restricting the development of empty capsids as a viable vaccine. Here expression of the FMDV structural protein precursor P1-2A in insect cells is shown to be efficient but linkage of the cognate 3C protease to the C-terminus reduces expression significantly. Inactivation of the 3C enzyme in a P1-2A-3C cassette allows expression and intermediate levels of 3C activity resulted in efficient processing of the P1-2A precursor into the structural proteins which assembled into empty capsids. Expression was independent of the insect host cell background and leads to capsids that are recognised as authentic by a range of anti-FMDV bovine sera suggesting their feasibility as an alternate vaccine.

Concepts: DNA, Proteins, Protein, Gene, Enzyme, Aphthovirus, Foot-and-mouth disease, Foot-and-mouth disease virus


Foot-and-mouth disease virus (FMDV) is an economically devastating viral disease leading to a substantial loss to the swine industry worldwide. A novel alternative strategy is to develop pigs that are genetically resistant to infection. Here, we produce transgenic (TG) pigs that constitutively expressed FMDV-specific siRNA derived from small hairpin RNA (shRNA). In vitro challenge of TG fibroblasts showed the shRNA suppressed viral growth. TG and non-transgenic (Non-TG) pigs were challenged by intramuscular injection with 100 LD50 of FMDV. High fever, severe clinical sign of FMD and typical histopathological changes were observed in all of the Non-TG pigs but in none of the high-siRNA pigs. Our results show that transgenic shRNA can provide a viable tool for producing animals with enhanced resistance to FMDV.

Concepts: Fever, Aphthovirus, Foot-and-mouth disease, Foot-and-mouth disease virus


Optimal intervention for disease outbreaks is often impeded by severe scientific uncertainty. Adaptive management (AM), long-used in natural resource management, is a structured decision-making approach to solving dynamic problems that accounts for the value of resolving uncertainty via real-time evaluation of alternative models. We propose an AM approach to design and evaluate intervention strategies in epidemiology, using real-time surveillance to resolve model uncertainty as management proceeds, with foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) culling and measles vaccination as case studies. We use simulations of alternative intervention strategies under competing models to quantify the effect of model uncertainty on decision making, in terms of the value of information, and quantify the benefit of adaptive versus static intervention strategies. Culling decisions during the 2001 UK FMD outbreak were contentious due to uncertainty about the spatial scale of transmission. The expected benefit of resolving this uncertainty prior to a new outbreak on a UK-like landscape would be £45-£60 million relative to the strategy that minimizes livestock losses averaged over alternate transmission models. AM during the outbreak would be expected to recover up to £20.1 million of this expected benefit. AM would also recommend a more conservative initial approach (culling of infected premises and dangerous contact farms) than would a fixed strategy (which would additionally require culling of contiguous premises). For optimal targeting of measles vaccination, based on an outbreak in Malawi in 2010, AM allows better distribution of resources across the affected region; its utility depends on uncertainty about both the at-risk population and logistical capacity. When daily vaccination rates are highly constrained, the optimal initial strategy is to conduct a small, quick campaign; a reduction in expected burden of approximately 10,000 cases could result if campaign targets can be updated on the basis of the true susceptible population. Formal incorporation of a policy to update future management actions in response to information gained in the course of an outbreak can change the optimal initial response and result in significant cost savings. AM provides a framework for using multiple models to facilitate public-health decision making and an objective basis for updating management actions in response to improved scientific understanding.

Concepts: Epidemiology, Decision making, Risk, Cognition, Decision theory, Management, Foot-and-mouth disease, Outbreak


Foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) is a highly infectious enzootic disease caused by FMD virus. The complete genome sequence of a circulatory FMD virus (FMDV) serotype O isolated from Natore, Bangladesh, is reported here. Genomic analysis revealed antigenic heterogeneity within the VP1 region, a fragment deletion, and insertions at the 5' untranslated region (UTR) and 3A region compared to the genome of the available vaccine strain.

Concepts: DNA, Genetics, Virus, Genome, RNA, Aphthovirus, Foot-and-mouth disease, Foot-and-mouth disease virus


: Foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) is a highly contagious disease of cloven-hoofed animals including cattle, pigs, sheep and many wildlife species. It can cause enormous economic losses when incursions occur into countries which are normally disease free. In addition, it has long-term effects within countries where the disease is endemic due to reduced animal productivity and the restrictions on international trade in animal products. The disease is caused by infection with foot-and-mouth disease virus (FMDV), a picornavirus. Seven different serotypes (and numerous variants) of FMDV have been identified. Some serotypes have a restricted geographical distribution, e.g. Asia-1, whereas others, notably serotype O, occur in many different regions. There is no cross-protection between serotypes and sometimes protection conferred by vaccines even of the same serotype can be limited. Thus it is important to characterize the viruses that are circulating if vaccination is being used for disease control. This review describes current methods for the detection and characterization of FMDVs. Sequence information is increasingly being used for identifying the source of outbreaks. In addition such information can be used to understand antigenic change within virus strains. The challenges and opportunities for improving the control of the disease within endemic settings, with a focus on Eurasia, are discussed, including the role of the FAO/EuFMD/OIE Progressive Control Pathway. Better control of the disease in endemic areas reduces the risk of incursions into disease-free regions.

Concepts: Infectious disease, Aphthovirus, Foot-and-mouth disease, Foot-and-mouth disease virus, Animal virology, Viral diseases, Picornaviruses, Domestic sheep


Formal decision-analytic methods can be used to frame disease control problems, the first step of which is to define a clear and specific objective. We demonstrate the imperative of framing clearly-defined management objectives in finding optimal control actions for control of disease outbreaks. We illustrate an analysis that can be applied rapidly at the start of an outbreak when there are multiple stakeholders involved with potentially multiple objectives, and when there are also multiple disease models upon which to compare control actions. The output of our analysis frames subsequent discourse between policy-makers, modellers and other stakeholders, by highlighting areas of discord among different management objectives and also among different models used in the analysis. We illustrate this approach in the context of a hypothetical foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) outbreak in Cumbria, UK using outputs from five rigorously-studied simulation models of FMD spread. We present both relative rankings and relative performance of controls within each model and across a range of objectives. Results illustrate how control actions change across both the base metric used to measure management success and across the statistic used to rank control actions according to said metric. This work represents a first step towards reconciling the extensive modelling work on disease control problems with frameworks for structured decision making.

Concepts: Decision making, Decision theory, Decision making software, Control theory, Model, Foot-and-mouth disease, Frame, Outbreak