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FMD diagnostics key first step in disease control

 

A training on the laboratory diagnosis of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) was held in Accra from 17-21  September, attended by trainees from the veterinary services of Cameroon, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Republic of Congo, Nigeria, Togo, Côte d’Ivoire, Senegal and the host country Ghana. The course involved drawing from various fields of expertise and contributions from among members of the network of labs known as RESOLAB in West Africa and its FMD sub-network, with support from the FAO-based European Commission for the Control of Foot-and-Mouth Disease (EuFMD), the European Commission, the government of Ghana and from the IDENTIFY project of the Emerging Pandemic Threats programme of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

 

The trainees learned to use a range of laboratory techniques to detect FMD viruses, including PCR, antigen detection ELISA, NSP antibody ELISA, and pen-side tests for use in the field. In addition, the course covered laboratory biocontainment, quality assurance, and the potential uses of molecular epidemiology to assist FMD control in the region. Each trainee provided a briefing on their country’s FMD status, and a regional follow-up plan was elaborated, which will be implemented under the leadership of the RESOLAB FMD sub-network.

 

Foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) is an economically devastating, highly contagious disease of cattle, sheep, goats, pigs and other cloven-hoofed animals. It causes direct production losses, restricts trade in animals and animal products, and affects food security. Enabling countries to confirm FMD through laboratory testing is a key component of strengthening FMD control. In West and Central Africa, the RESOLAB FMD sub-network is leading the coordination of efforts to diagnose FMD to better combat the disease.

 

It is hoped that this model will form the basis for further cooperation on FMD control in West Africa, and it highlights the great successes which can be achieved by coordinated action among national governments, FAO offices at the local, regional and global levels. FAO’s European Commission for the Control of Foot-and-Mouth Disease (EuFMD), its Emergency Prevention System for Transboundary Animal Diseases (EMPRES-Animal Health) and its Emergency Centre for Transboundary Animal Diseases (ECTAD), which is a partnership of its Emergencies Division and the Animal Production and Health Division, are working together to provide technical support to the initiative.