Foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) can cause large disruptive epidemics in livestock. Current eradication measures rely on the rapid clinical detection and removal of infected herds. Here, we evaluated the potential for preclinical diagnosis during reactive surveillance to reduce the risk of between-farm transmission. We used data from transmission experiments in cattle where both samples from individual animals, such as blood, probang samples, and saliva and nasal swabs, and herd-level samples, such as air samples, were taken daily during the course of infection. The sensitivity of each of these sample types for the detection of infected cattle during different phases of the early infection period was quantified. The results were incorporated into a mathematical model for FMD, in a cattle herd, to evaluate the impact of the early detection and culling of an infected herd on the infectious output. The latter was expressed as the between-herd reproduction ratio, Rh, where an effective surveillance approach would lead to a reduction in the Rh value to <1. Applying weekly surveillance, clinical inspection alone was found to be ineffective at blocking transmission. This was in contrast to the impact of weekly random sampling (i.e., using saliva swabs) of at least 10 animals per farm or daily air sampling (housed cattle), both of which were shown to reduce the Rh to <1. In conclusion, preclinical detection during outbreaks has the potential to allow earlier culling of infected herds and thereby reduce transmission and aid the control of epidemics.
- Early detection
- Foot-and-mouth disease virus