A rapid on-farm (“pen-side”) test for foot-and-mouth disease virus (FMDV) is now available commercially.
Dr Nigel Ferris of the Institute for Animal Health’s Pirbright Laboratory has been collaborating with Svanova Biotech AB (Sweden) since 2002 to develop the test, which was launched in April. The small, hand-held “lateral flow” device involves the same technology as is used in home pregnancy tests. An extract of a small sample of tissue taken from an animal suspected of having FMD is spotted onto the bottom of the device. This then flows up the device. If FMDV is present in the sample, a line forms within 10 minutes.
The test can easily be used on farms, meaning that a result can be obtained faster than sending a sample to the laboratory. Appropriate action can then be taken, based on firm, timely evidence.
The development has been supported by the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and partners within European Union LAB-ON-SITE project http://www.labonsite.com/.
“In effect,” said Dr Ferris, “we are taking the laboratory to the farm, for on-the-spot testing to support clinical diagnosis.”
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