University of Cambridge > Talks.cam > Departmental Seminar Programme, Department of Veterinary Medicine > Foot-and-Mouth Disease Virus: Wonderful Virus – Dreadful Disease

Foot-and-Mouth Disease Virus: Wonderful Virus – Dreadful Disease

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Foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) is still a major threat to the livestock industry worldwide. Although it has been eradicated from large areas of the world (e.g. North America, Australasia and Europe) through vaccination and other disease control measures, it is still endemic in many areas and poses a constant threat of reintroduction into FMD free regions. The causative agent, foot-and-mouth disease virus (FMDV) is a small single stranded RNA virus (family picornaviridae) related to pathogens such as poliovirus, rhinovirus and hepatitis A virus. It was the first animal virus to be identified as such and one of the first against which vaccines were developed. It is one of the fastest replicating viruses known and is highly contagious. Surprisingly, however, a high proportion of infected cattle become long term asymptomatic carriers of the virus if allowed to survive acute infection. The talk will summarise the history of the discovery of FMDV and the development of vaccines. The escape of the virus from research facilities at Pirbright, UK, will be described as an illustration of the efficiency with which the virus can establish outbreaks in naïve herds. Finally, the molecular biology and structural biology of the virus will be described in relation to understanding pathology, transmission and then development of improved vaccines and control measures.

This talk is part of the Departmental Seminar Programme, Department of Veterinary Medicine series.

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