USDA Scientists Studying Causes of Foot-And-Mouth Disease

Wisconsin Ag Connection

U.S. Department of Agriculture scientists have learned that foot-and-mouth infection in cattle begins when the virus selectively infects epithelial cells in the back of the cow’s throat. This discovery could lead to development of new vaccines to control and potentially eradicate FMD, a highly contagious and sometimes fatal viral disease of cloven-hoofed animals that is considered the most economically devastating livestock disease in the world.

Veterinary medical officer Jonathan Arzt, research leader Luis Rodriguez and microbiologist Juan Pacheco, scientists with the Agricultural Research Service Foreign Animal Disease Research Unit at the Plum Island Animal Disease Center at Orient Point, N.Y., found that it only takes just six hours of exposure to the FMD virus through the cow’s nasal passages, for the virus to attach itself to these specific epithelial cell.

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