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Virus Res. 2003 Jan;91(1):65-80.

Molecular epidemiology of foot-and-mouth disease virus.

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Institute for Animal Health, Pirbright Laboratory, Ash Road, Pirbright, Woking, Surrey GU24 0NF, UK.


Foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) is the most economically important veterinary pathogen due to its highly infectious nature, ability to cause persistent infections and long term effects on the condition and productivity of the many animal species it affects. Countries which have the disease have many trade restrictions placed upon them. In the last 15 years there have been significant advances in the understanding of FMD epidemiology. These have largely been due to the application of the molecular biological techniques of polymerase chain-reaction amplification and nucleotide sequencing. In the World Reference Laboratory for FMD (Pirbright, UK), a large sequence database has been built up. This database has been used to aid in the global tracing of virus movements. It has been possible to genetically group many FMDV's based on their geographic origin and this has led to their being referred to as topotypes. The implications of this are that inter-regional spread of viruses can often be easily recognised and any evolutionary changes which subsequently occur can be monitored. Using these techniques, for the first time, we have been able to unequivocally show the recent pandemic spread of a FMDV type O strain through the whole of Asia and into Africa and Europe. This type of surveillance will become increasingly important as further globalisation of markets occurs. An increased understanding of how FMDV strains move between geographic regions will play a pivotal role in the development of future disease control strategies.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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