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July 16th 2010 ~"It was very easy to use! Sample preparation took about two minutes. We all learned how to use the GeneSTAT within a few minutes."
This was one comment about the ease of use of the rapid, portable diagnostic device known as "GeneSTAT". An official report of the Vietnam validation of the system was being given in Rome at the FAO/IAEA Meeting on Rapid Reporting of Transboundary Diseases in May this year.
The GeneSTAT(R) test module requires a simple swab of the mouth, nose or throat. The thermocyler and cartridges process the sample and provide a reportable result within 70 minutes. It is widely used in the former Soviet Union to detect at source pathogens that include FMD.
Before 1980 the policy of killing "contact" herds was not questioned because laboratory techniques then simply could not have handled the volume of samples to check for infection. As the ProMed moderator, MHJ, commented in August 2007
"....Today all that is different and thousands of samples
are run each day. This brings home the point that the laboratory must move
into the field and test animals quickly before irreversible actions are taken."
Such portable and effective diagnostic devices are far too useful not to be used in countries such as the UK and Japan. The only question that remains is WHEN will the outdated regulations of the OIE and EU pass into history. What is the real price of guarding the monopoly of central laboratories and of using unsound science to "justify" protectionism? Discriminating against vaccination is absurd when it is now possible to distinguish FMD infected animals from purely vaccinated ones.
July 16th 2010 ~ FMD Myazaki: "We urged the quarantine officer many times to examine the cow,
but he didn't listen to us..."
The suspect cow was found at a Shintomicho farm where 500 cows, vaccinated the month before, were being slaughtered because the policy of suppressive vaccination allowed Japan to retain its FMD without vaccination trade status. Vets and quarantine officers who were in the process of killing the animals discovered one cow exhibiting what have been described as "mild" clinical symptoms of FMD. Instead of being closely examined and properly tested, it was killed and buried that day. According to the article at www.yomiuri.co.jp, 3 vets involved said they thought the animal "obviously" had the disease and had asked in vain for the cow to be examined. The Minister for Agriculture is quoted as saying yesterday: (see FMD page)
"[If a cow] had been found to be infected with foot-and-mouth disease, it would've delayed lifting the restrictions on the movement of livestock." He went on to add,"It's regrettable the suspicious case wasn't reported. We plan to thoroughly [investigate it]."
As we know from the UK crisis of 2001, since foot and mouth occurs rarely in non endemic countries, most vets are inexperienced at FMD diagnosis by sight alone. In the frenetic atmosphere of the UK's crisis of 2001 when lab tests were rare, any mouth blisters were considered proof of disease.
It would seem that there is a regrettable amount of political mud-slinging taking place in Japan. Arguments between the Miyazaki Governor, Hideo Higashikokubaru, and Tokyo officialdom can be no substitute for a cool consideration of lessons to be learned from the Myazaki outbreak. As we have said many times, it is heartbreaking that there is such ignorance about the existing technology for a quick, effective and humane response to an incursion of FMD.