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For immediate release

Foot-and-mouth disease: rapid on-farm test is now available

A rapid on-farm (“pen-side”) test for foot-and-mouth disease virus (FMDV) is now available commercially. Dr Nigel Ferris of the Institute for Animal Health’s Pirbright Laboratory has been collaborating with Svanova Biotech AB (Sweden) since 2002 to develop the test, which was launched in April. The small, hand-held “lateral flow” device involves the same technology as is used in home pregnancy tests. An extract of a small sample of tissue taken from an animal suspected of having FMD is spotted onto the bottom of the device. This then flows up the device. If FMDV is present in the sample, a line forms within 10 minutes.

The test can easily be used on farms, meaning that a result can be obtained faster than sending a sample to the laboratory. Appropriate action can then be taken, based on firm, timely evidence.

The development has been supported by the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and partners within European Union LAB-ON-SITE project

“In effect,” said Dr Ferris, “we are taking the laboratory to the farm, for on-the-spot testing to support clinical diagnosis.”


For more information contact Dr Dave Cavanagh at the Institute for Animal Health’s press office: mobile 07789 941568 (message can be recorded); office 01635 577241 (message can be recorded);

Notes for Editors

Examples of results using the lateral flow device are shown here:

Collaborators. Svanova Biotech AB develops and manufactures diagnostic products, mainly for diagnosing infectious diseases in livestock and companion animals. More about the pen-side test can be found at The monoclonal antibody that is an essential part of the test was provided by Dr Emiliana Brocchi of the Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale della Lombardia e dell´Emilia Romagna, Brescia, Italy.

The Institute for Animal Health is dedicated to the study of infectious diseases in farm animals. It has two campuses: Pirbright Laboratory (Pirbright, near Guildford, Surrey) and Compton Laboratory (Compton, near Newbury, Berkshire).

IAH is one of five research institutes sponsored by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC;

IAH Pirbright Laboratory provides nine world and regional laboratories (Reference Laboratories) for major diseases of farm animals, on behalf of:

World Reference Laboratory of the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO)

Regional Reference Laboratory of the OIE (World Organisation for Animal Health

Community Reference Laboratory of the EU

Each reference laboratory specialises in one type of virus.  A reference laboratory maintains a collection of viruses and related reagents, and provides a diagnostic service.

Bluetongue: OIE, EU

African swine fever: OIE

African horse sickness: OIE, EU

Foot-and-mouth disease: FAO, OIE, EU

Swine vesicular disease: OIE, EU

Lumpy skin disease: OIE

Sheep and goat pox: IE

Peste de petits ruminants: FAO, OIE

Rinderpest: FAO, EU

Prof. David Cavanagh BSc, PhD, DSc

Head of Corporate Affairs and Communication

Institute for Animal Health


























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