Towards improvements in foot-and-mouth disease vaccine performance

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Foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) remains one of the most economically important infectious diseases of production animals. Six (out of 7 that have been identified) different serotypes of the FMD virus continue to circulate in different parts of the world. Within each serotype there is also extensive diversity as the virus constantly changes. Vaccines need to be "matched" to the outbreak strain, not just to the serotype, to confer protection. Vaccination has been used successfully to assist in the eradication of the disease from Europe but is no longer employed there unless outbreaks occur. Thus the animal population in Europe, as in North America, is fully susceptible to the virus if it is accidentally (or deliberately) introduced. Almost 3 billion doses of the vaccine are made each year to control the disease elsewhere. Current vaccines are produced from chemically inactivated virus that has to be grown, on a large scale, under high containment conditions. The vaccine efficiently prevents disease but the duration of immunity is rather limited (about 6 months) and vaccination does not provide sterile immunity or block the development of carriers. Furthermore, the vaccine is quite unstable and a cold chain needs to be maintained to preserve the efficacy of the vaccine. This can be a challenge in the parts of the world where the disease is endemic. There is a significant interest in developing improved vaccines and significant progress in this direction has been made using a variety of approaches. However, no alternative vaccines are yet available commercially. Improved disease control globally is clearly beneficial to all countries as it reduces the risk of virus incursions into disease free areas.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20
JournalActa Veterinaria Scandinavica
Issue number1
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 2020

    Research areas

  • Capsid assembly, Duration of immunity, Persistent infection, Picornavirus

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