Important legal notice
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Animal health and welfare
Animal health and welfare - Improving animal diets and well-being
“To pave the way for a ‘vaccinate-to-live’ control strategy for foot and mouth disease.”

The problem

Foot and mouth disease (FMD) is a highly contagious and devastating disease affecting livestock. EU strategy for controlling FMD outbreaks has relied heavily on mass culling, not only of diseased animals and known (or likely) contacts, but also of animals vaccinated as an emergency containment measure. Today, proposed changes in Union legislation make room for reduced culling, combined with emergency vaccination (with marker vaccines) and subsequent screening for residual infection. In order to implement this approach, there remain knowledge and technology gaps to be filled.

FMD_ImproCon  Foot and mouth disease: vaccination revisited


FMD infection and inoculation with marker vaccines (or highly purified inactivated vaccines) elicit different antibody profiles. FMD_ImproCon seeks to validate existing tests (detecting infection-specific antibodies) for the unequivocal identification of infected animals (vaccinated or not).

Additional aims are to:

  • Develop and validate new tests
  • Improve virus detection
  • Study the onset of vaccinal protection and the impact of vaccination on virus dissemination and the carrier state
  • Improve methods used to select vaccine strains
  • Develop new marker vaccines (e.g. vaccines that prevent establishment of the carrier state by stimulating mucosal immunity)

Contribution to policy development:

  • FMD_ImproCon will improve monitoring and outbreak control which will help the EU maintain the trust of trade partners and its ‘FMD-free status without vaccination’
  • It will give scientific support to a ‘vaccinate-to-live’ strategy, the results of which may help shape evolving EU and international FMD control policy
  • The project will develop tools and knowledge for responding to various societal concerns, such as farmers’ interests in protecting the livestock, as well as the animal welfare concerns of the public

Project deliverables

  • Validated existing tests, prototype or validated new tests –January 2006 and onwards
  • Candidate vaccines with a potential to confer mucosal immunity – January 2007
  • A comparative tool for validating diagnostic tests without a ‘gold standard’ – January 2008
  • Knowledge on the impact of vaccination on virus circulation – January 2007
  • Better knowledge of FMD virus strain selection – January 2008
  • Final results of clinical protection, vaccine potency, and carrier-state studies – January 2008


  • Project website and plan for exploiting and disseminating knowledge – March 2004
  • Yearly project group meetings and annual gathering of the EU reference laboratories for vesicular diseases – May 2005/2006/2007, January 2008
  • Biennial meeting of the FAO-EUFMD research group, bringing together reference laboratory representatives of 32 European countries – 2004, 2006
  • Workshops for bench training, benefiting EU and non-EU laboratories (candidate countries, the Balkans, Asia and Africa) – Ongoing

Technical information

Project acronym: FMD_ImproCon
Project’s official full title: Improvement of Foot and Mouth Disease Control by ethically acceptable methods based on scientifically validated assays and new knowledge on FMD vaccines, including the impact of vaccination
Research priority: New and more environment friendly production methods to improve animal health and welfare including research on animal diseases such as foot and mouth disease, swine fever and development of marker vaccines
Specific webpage:
Proposal/contract no: 503603
Start date: 01/01/2004
Kick off meeting: 19/11/2003
Completion date: 31/12/2007
European Commission scientific officer: Isabel Minguez-Tudela (

Name: Centrum voor Onderzoek in Diergeneeskunde en Agrochemie
Abbreviated name: CODA
Address: 99 Groeselenberg, 1180 Brussels
Country: Belgium
Tel: +32 2 379 0512
Fax: +32 2 379 0401


Name: Institute for Animal Health
Abbreviated name: IAH
Country: United Kingdom         

Name: Centraal Instituut voor Dierziekte Controle Lelystad, part of DLO Foundation
Abbreviated name: CICD-Lelystad
Country: The Netherlands

Name: Danish Institute for Food and Veterinary Research
Abbreviated name: DFVF
Country: Denmark

Name: Friedrich-Loeffler-Institut
Abbreviated name: FLI Riems
Country: Germany

Name: Instituto Nacional de Investigación y Tecnología Agraria y Alimentaría
Abbreviated name: INIA
Country: Spain

Name: Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale della Lombardia e dell’Emilia Romagna
Abbreviated name: IZSLER
Country: Italy

Name: Sap Institute
Abbreviated name: Sap
Country: Turkey

Name: Agence Française de Sécurité Sanitaire des Aliments
Abbreviated name: AFSSA
Country: France

Name: Institute of Virology and Immunoprophylaxis
Abbreviated name: IVI
Country: Switzerland