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The European Commission for the Control of Foot-and-Mouth Disease (EUFMD Commission) organized a workshop on the detection, using the ELISA technique, of antibodies against FMDV non-structural protein 3ABC at the Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale della Lombardia e dell'Emilia (IZSLE), Brescia, Italy from 18 to 21 January 2000. The workshop was sponsored by the European Communities (EC) through the EC/EUFMD Trust Fund 911100 on the recommendations made by the Tripartite FAO/EC/EUFMD meeting for the Balkans, held on 13 October 1999, and the 63rd session of the Executive Committee held in Sithonia, Greece, on 4 and 5 November 1999. Seven laboratory specialists participated - from Bulgaria, Greece, Turkey and Belgium (invited by the IZSLE in the framework of an EU Concerted Action). The instructors were experts from the World Reference Laboratory (IAH, Pirbright) and from the IZSLE.

During infection by the FMD virus, antibodies to both structural and non-structural proteins are produced in the animal, whereas after vaccination generally only antibodies to structural proteins are induced. Research has shown that the detection of antibodies to the non-structural protein 3ABC can be a useful tool in the diagnosis of FMD virus and the differentiation between infected and vaccinated animals. A monoclonal-trapping ELISA (MATELISA) using MS-3ABC was developed by the IZSLE and has been used successfully in the investigation of sera from Albania, The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Caucasia. It has also been used in Argentina for demonstrating the absence of circulating virus. At Pirbright, United Kingdom, a MATELISA based on the Brescia test but using GST-3ABC as antigen has been developed and used in testing sera from suspected outbreaks in the Balkans and North Africa. It is expected that the 3ABC ELISA could become a major tool for serosurveillance of FMD. Under the new EC legislation for FMD control which is under preparation, it is foreseen that if ring vaccination is carried out for controlling an outbreak, the 3ABC test will be required for all vaccinated animals. The workshop in Brescia will initiate the first phase in the transfer of 3ABC ELISA technology to the national FMD laboratories in the Balkan countries.

(Contributed by: Dr Yves Leforban, EUFMD secretariat.)

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