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Virus Res. 2003 Jan;91(1):3-7.

The history of research in foot-and-mouth disease.

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Plum Island Animal Disease Center, USDA-ARS, Greenport, NY 11944, USA.


The history of research in foot-and-mouth disease falls into several distinct areas. In this short chapter I have highlighted what I consider to be the significant advances in our knowledge of the disease and its causal agent. 1. Loeffler and Frosch's landmark description in 1898 that the disease is caused by a filterable agent, the first observation that an animal disease could be caused by a virus. 2. The search for experimental laboratory animals, culminating in the demonstration by Waldmann and Pape of the susceptibility of the guinea pig in 1920 and the suckling mouse by Skinner in 1951. 3. The discovery of three distinct serotypes O, A and C in the 1920s by Vallée and Carré in France and by Waldmann in Germany, and the subsequent recognition in the 1940s and 1950s by the Pirbright group of the three Southern African Territory Types SAT 1-3, and Asia 1. 4. The development of in vitro techniques for the growth of the virus which have been crucial for the large-scale production of vaccines and for the accurate assay of virus infectivity. Early work by Hecke and the Maitlands in the early 1930s, followed by the crucial demonstration by Frenkel in 1947 that large amounts of the virus could be produced in surviving tongue epithelium, formed the basis for the vaccination programmes initiated in Europe in the 1950s. The subsequent development of cell lines has brought a remarkable degree of sophistication to the study of virus growth. 5. The impact of molecular studies on the structure of the virus and its mode of replication which have led to practical applications such as an in vitro test for vaccine potency, rapid diagnosis methods, and international epidemiological surveys. In addition, they have provided the means to design molecular vaccines.

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