Livestock Industry Needs to be Prepared for FMD
December 21, 2012
Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) in livestock is currently in more than 100 countries so it is not a matter of if it will occur again in the United States, it is a matter of when it will occur, according to Paul Sundberg, vice president of science and technology at the National Pork Council.
The last outbreak of FMD in the United States occurred in 1929, but the next outbreak could occur at any moment and we must be prepared to act quickly, Sundberg said.
The disease, which affects cloven-hoofed animals, is "very difficult" to control because there are seven different serotypes and 60 subtypes of the FMD virus, he noted.
"All FMD viruses aren't the same. We can't use a common vaccine," Sundberg said, adding the virus strains are constantly evolving and changing, so the vaccines the industry has developed aren't always effective.
In addition, an FMD vaccine is not in high demand in the United States because if there is an outbreak, it is doubtful that enough vaccine could be made and sent out to producers soon enough.
"Vaccines have a shelf life. They can't be stockpiled," he said.
However, Harrisvaccines, an Ames, Iowa, company, may have the answer to that. It was recently awarded $1.114 million from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate to develop an RNA Particle (RP) vaccine to potentially protect the United States from FMD, according to a press release from the company. The company's RP platform technology allows the vaccine to be manufactured without handling the infectious FMD virus because only a gene sequence from the virus is needed to prepare the vaccine.
Kurt Kamrud, Ph.D., said their "rapid response technology allows us to produce large amounts of vaccine quickly."
Reprinted in part from Farm and Ranch Guide