Knowledge Based Bio-Economy


Improved control strategies for foot and mouth disease

Project Acronym FMD-DISCONVAC

Title of project Development, enhancement and complementation of animal-sparing, foot-and-mouth disease vaccine-based control strategies for free and endemic regions

Research area Agriculture & Forestry (Foot-and-mouth disease: improve and / or develop vaccine, vaccination strategies and diagnostics assays for free and endemic settings)

Contract No 226556

EU Contribution 2999 000 EURO

Start date April 2009

Duration 39 Months


Foot and mouth disease (FMD) is one of the world’s most infectious diseases of livestock and continues to pose a significant threat to endemic and free regions alike. The impact of FMD on society and international trade is high, demanding stringent prevention, surveillance and control activities that are put in place through crisis preparedness plans. This often requires widespread slaughter of animals as an effective control measure. At the same time, there is a global increase in concern for animal welfare and ethical considerations that indicate that there is a need to decreased reliance on eradication of animals to control the spread of the FMD virus as well as reduce the use of animals for the regulatory testing of veterinary products.

This project seeks to balance these contradicting viewpoints by addressing specific gaps in knowledge on all aspects of FMD control. The aim is to enable implementation of enhanced animal-sparing vaccine-based control strategies tailored to the needs of various free and endemic settings. To achieve this four main objectives have been identified. These include the improvement of the quality of existing FMD vaccines and diagnostics, the refinement and replacement of in vivo FMD vaccine quality tests and the development of new generation FMD vaccines and diagnostics through application of new technical approaches. It also seeks to increase knowledge concerning the transmission and spread of FMD virus following the use of high-potency monovalent or multivalent vaccines. The role of wildlife (buffalo, gazelles and wild boar) in FMDV maintenance and transmission will also be investigated.

Expected Impact:

This project is expected to make significant progress towards the objectives of the Community’s Animal Health Strategy (2007-2013), the European Technology Platform for Global Animal Health, and the Global Roadmap for improving the Tools to Control FMD in Endemic Settings. As far as the Animal Health Strategy is concerned, widespread consultation has suggested that given the devastating impact that serious disease outbreaks can have on farmers, society and the economy, the new strategy is based on the principle that “prevention is better than cure”. The aim is to put greater focus on precautionary measures, disease surveillance, controls and research, in order to reduce the incidence of animal disease and minimise the impact of outbreaks when they do occur. Results from this project can contribute significantly to many of these aims. Similarly, the Global Roadmap on FMDV indicates the need to provide crucial momentum to a global initiative on improving the capacity for control within countries where FMD is endemic to control the disease through the use of improved vaccines and other associated technologies. Again, objectives met by this project.

Expected Results:

By extending existing knowledge gained from a previous project funded under FP6, this group expects to improve the quality of existing FMD vaccines and diagnostics, refine and replace in vivo vaccine quality tests, develop new generation FMD vaccines and diagnostics, and increase the knowledge on how FMDV is spread in the environment and transmitted to susceptible animal species. The project should result in more refined vaccine quality tests based on in vitro methods resulting in a database of sera from potency tests as well as reference sera for assessing the correlation between serology post-vaccination and protection against challenge. A model will also be produced that will statistically correlating serology post-vaccination to protection. This and related work will lead to guidelines indicating how to interpret results of post-vaccination sero-surveillance with reference to protection. It will provide information on the protection afforded by existing and new monovalent vaccines against newly emerging strains of the virus that has a very high mutation rate. It will also show whether multivalent vaccines containing several antigens of one serotype offer advantages over existing monovalent vaccines in terms of broader coverage within the same serotype as the vaccine strains. Standardised and harmonised procedures will be established for the performance assessment assays and interpretation results.

It will also develop and evaluate FMD vaccines that will be safe to produce as well as attempting to develop and optimise of potent and selective inhibitors of the replication of FMDV with potential for use as antiviral drugs. It will Improve standardisation and harmonisation of FMD diagnostic results through the development of a panel of stabilised, validated diagnostic kits for FMD serology and antigen typing ready for commercial exploitation as well as develop and evaluate confirmatory tests and test systems for post-outbreak sero-surveillance as well as a multiplex immunoassay that allows simultaneous detection of antibodies to multiple viral antigens in a single reaction. This will lead to guidelines for the application of DIVA (Differentiating Infected from Vaccinated Animals) tests in case of post-outbreak sero-surveillance strategies following FMD vaccination, and for the detection of FMDV in FMD-free-with-vaccination regions. A series of reports will be prepared on the basis of studies on the within-pen contact transmission in non-vaccinated cattle and in cattle vaccinated one week prior to contact-exposed challenge. Other reports will cover transmission between cattle and sheep, transmission in buffalo and the role of wildlife in transmission.

It will generate an inventory of available information for input parameters to feed into simulation models, adapt such models to carry out test simulations with these models and validate them using available outbreak data producing suggestions for vaccination strategies following the results of the chosen modelling simulations.

Website of


Coordinator Kris De Clercq,


Veterinary and Agrochemical Research Centre, Belgium,


Institute for Animal Health, UK,

Central Veterinary Institute, Netherlands,

The Veterinary Medical Research Institute of Lombardia and Emilia Romagna, Italy

Federal Research Institute for Animal Health, Germany,

Indian Immunologicals Limited, India,

Lanzhou Veterinary Research Institute, China

Foundation for the Interaction of Systems of Production, Education, Science and technology, Argentina,

French Agency for Food Safety, France,

Swiss Federal Veterinary Office Institute of Virology and Immunoprophylaxis, Switzerland,

Kimron Veterinary Institute, Israel,

University of Glasgow, UK,

Danish Technical University, Denmark,

Merial SAS, France,