Scientists Make Foot-and-Mouth Disease Breakthrough


Scientists with the Agriculture Department’s Agriculture Research Service have identified the primary site where the virus that causes foot-and-mouth disease begins infection in cattle.

The 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.

The discovery was made by scientists at the ARS Foreign Animal Disease Research Unit at the Plum Island Animal Disease Center at Orient Point, N.Y. Researchers found that after just six hours of exposure to the FMD virus through the cow’s nasal passages, the virus selectively infects epithelial cells in the nasopharynx, a specific region of the back of the throat.

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