Detection of FMDV in milk samples: potential for disease surveillance

Researchers at The Pirbright Institute and the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) Foreign Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory have shown it could be possible to detect Foot-and-mouth disease virus (FMDV) in pooled milk samples stored in bulk tanks. The results suggest that milk testing could contribute to disease surveillance both during and after outbreaks.

Control of FMD is heavily reliant on the rapid and accurate detection of the virus, but current tests normally use tissue or blood samples, the collection of which needs to be carried out for each individual animal, can be invasive and require the expertise of a veterinarian or an animal health professional.

The method used by the team, described in Veterinary Microbiology is potentially sensitive enough to detect an infected cow in a typical sized herd of 100-1000 individuals through the sampling of bulk milk storage. The test is able to generate a result in about four hours, and can detect the virus genetic material in milk up to 28 days after the animal becomes infected, which is longer than the ten days afforded by traditional surveillance samples such as serum.

Bryony Armson, first author of the research at Pirbright, said: “Milk is already used as a surveillance tool for a number of diseases, such as bovine viral diarrhoea and brucellosis, so it makes sense to investigate this approach for the detection of FMDV. We were able to detect virus in milk from FMD infected cows during a real outbreak, highlighting the potential for milk to be used as a surveillance sample.”

Read article: Detection of foot-and-mouth disease virus in milk samples by real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction: optimisation and evaluation of a high-throughput screening method with potential for disease surveillance by Bryony Armson, Valerie Mioulet, Claudia Doel, Mikidache Madi, Satya Parida, Karissa A. Lemire, Diane J. Holder, Amaresh Das, Michael T. McIntosh and Donald P. King published in Veterinary Microbiology, online 29 July 2018, doi: 10.1016/j.vetmic.2018.07.024