The United States Department of Agriculture and the United States Department of Homeland Security recently announced the development and licensing of a molecular-based vaccine for one strain of Foot and Mouth Disease.
Most importantly, animals vaccinated with the new vaccine can be differentiated from naturally infected animals.
“Having this capability is critical to demonstrating freedom of infection and return to trade after a FMD outbreak,” says Marvin Grubman, with USDA’s Agricultural Research Service at Plumb Island Animal Disease Center (PIADC). That will allow animal health officials to more readily vaccinate animals in the event of an outbreak without fear of being unable to differentiate them from infected animals.
In the past, animals might be vaccinated simply to prevent the further spread of the disease. But they then would have to be later destroyed to prove FMD was no longer present.
Because the new vaccine also contains no live virus, the vaccine can be manufactured on the U.S. mainland, says Larry Barrett, PIADC director.
“This vaccine represents one of the most significant developments in FMD vaccines in the last 50 years,” says Luis Rodriguez, PIADC research leader. “The new molecular vaccine provides important options to FMD control in the United States, including less dependence on foreign sources for vaccine manufacturing and a wider range of tests that can readily distinguish vaccinated animals from those that have been infected with the disease.”
While the vaccine protects against one strain of FMD, there are six other major serotypes and many sub-types of the disease. PIADC scientists are currently developing vaccines for these other types.