Foot & Mouth Disease ~ The implications for Agriculture ~

Foot & Mouth Disease ~ The implications for Agriculture ~

International experts are gathering in Glasgow this Friday (7/9/01) to explore the crucial issues of the identification and control of Foot & Mouth Disease, as it continues to spread through farms in Northumberland.
Speaking at a public symposium, organised by The Royal Society of Edinburgh, leading authority, Professor Fred Brown, is expected to claim that Government continues to ignore apparatus which would urgently identify where farms are infected, before signs are outwardly visible.

The event, which is part of The BA Festival of Science, will offer members of the public, the Media, specialists and those affected by the disease, the chance to question the science behind arguments for and against a programme of vaccination.

Press Conference

    Friday 7th September 2001
    12.30 – 1pm
    The Mackintosh Theatre
    The Hunterian Art Gallery, Glasgow.

The Debate

    2pm - 4.30pm
    Friday 7th September 2001
    Lecture Room G29, Main Building,
    Main Campus, University of Glasgow

Chairman, Sir James Armour, CBE, FRSE,
Emeritus Professor of Veterinary Parasitology & Former Vice-Principal, University of Glasgow.

Welcome by Sir William Stewart FRS, FRSE,
President of the Royal Society of Edinburgh & The BA

Foot-and-Mouth Disease: A World problem

Professor Fred Brown, OBE, FRS
United States Department of Agriculture

Foot-and-Mouth Disease Virus: The Nature of the Beast
Professor Dave Rowlands
Department of Microbiology, University of Leeds

The Science of Controlling Disease Outbreaks
Professor Mark Woolhouse
Centre for Tropical Veterinary Medicine, The Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, University of Edinburgh

Chaired Discussion for which
Dr Hugh Reid, Head of Virology at Moredun Research Institute will join the panel.

Abstracts & Biography

Professor Fred Brown:
Fred Brown OBE FRS is a visiting scientist at the USDA’s Plum Island Animal Disease Center. He has worked with foot-and-mouth disease virus and other animal viruses since 1955. His particular interest is the structural features relevant to successful immunization.

Foot-and-mouth disease virus is a highly contagious viral infection of farm animals. It has devastating effects on the productivity of cattle and pigs so that its control is clearly important. This is achieved either by vaccination or by slaughtering infected animals and their close contacts.

The disease occurs worldwide and no country can be considered safe because there is so much international movement of animals and animal products. During the past four years there have been outbreaks in countries which had not had the disease for decades: Taiwan (1929), South Korea (1934), Japan (1908) and U.K. (1981).

A crucial issue in the control of the disease is the persistence of the virus in convalescent animals. Although it has not been established firmly that these animals can transmit the disease to naive animals, this persistence presents a barrier to world trade, particularly in view of the belief that vaccinated animals can become infected without showing signs of the disease. What is forgotten is that naive animals, particularly sheep, can also become sub-clinically infected . There is an urgent need to validate a test which identifies infected animals, whether vaccinated or not.

An internationally sponsored programme to eradicate the disease in much the same way as was done for smallpox and is now well underway for poliomyelitis would benefit the animal health industry worldwide.

Professor Dave Rowlands:
Foot and mouth Disease(FMDV) is one of the smallest animal viruses and is related to poliovirus and the common cold virus. A simple vaccine consisting of chemically inactivated virus has been available for several decades and its careful use resulted in the elimination of the virus from Europe. However, there are a number of real or perceived shortcomings associated with current vaccines. Major advances in our understanding of the structure and replication of FMDV in recent years will pave the way to better vaccines and diagnostic tests.

Graduated from University of London, Kings’ College in 1961 this was followed by a phd at the University of Southampton while working as the Principal Scientific officer at the Animal Virus research Institute(now known as the Institute of animal Health) at Pirbright. Whilst still in Pirbright moved to the Head of Virus Research at Wellcome Biotech before transferring to the same position at their Beckenham operation. This was followed by a five year stint as the Principal Research Scientist at the Wellcome Foundation in Beckenham. Since 1996 I have worked as a Professor of Molecular Virology at the University of Leeds.

Professor Mark Woolhouse:
The Government’s policy for managing the current epidemic of foot-and-mouth disease in the UK has been vigorously debated by veterinanrians, farmers and the public at large. Important questions have been raised. Why must infected animals be destroyed within 24 hours? Why is it necessary to cull contiguous premises even when there is no evidence that the virus is present? Why is contiguous culling a better option than vaccination? The answers to these questions lie in the data, especially information on patterns of spread across the country, and in the theory, notably mathematical models of the expected impact of different control measures. This talk will review the data, explain the theory and show how the two have been put together to inform policy decisions. Preventing future epidemics will depend not just on technological adavances such as more sensitive diagnostics or better vaccines but also changing the way in which we manage our livestock populations.


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