The Institute for Animal Health this week celebrates its 50th anniversary as the World Reference Laboratory for foot-and-mouth disease.
The Royal Society is the venue for a celebration of the Institute for Animal Health’s (IAH) Pirbright Laboratory as the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation Reference Laboratory for foot-and-mouth disease (FMD).
The one-day symposium, on Friday 9th May, features speakers from Belgium, Germany, Italy, South Africa, and Spain in addition to the universities of Cambridge, Edinburgh and Oxford, and IAH.
The theme of the symposium is tracking the emergence and global spread of FMD. The significance of the disease has been exacerbated by the globalisation of trade, the rapid growth and intensification of livestock keeping (especially in countries where FMD is chronic), and the threat of bioterrorist attacks.
The first scientific talk will be given by Nick Knowles of IAH, who compares the gene sequences of new isolates of the virus with his ever-expanding database of FMD sequences from around the globe. In this way he can track FMD viruses as they spread not only within countries but also across national boundaries, indeed continents.
“IAH Pirbright’s contribution to the control of FMD in some developing countries, where the disease is continually present, is part philanthropy, part enlightened self-interest on the part of the UK,” said Dr David Paton, Head of the FMD Reference Laboratory. “Diminishing FMD overseas reduces the chances of it being imported into the UK and neighbouring European countries.”
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