'ProMED' means 'Program for Monitoring Emerging Diseases' and is the Internet-based reporting programme of the International Society for Infectious Diseases (ISID). The moderators are international experts in their field who screen, review, and investigate reports before posting to the network. ProMED-mail is independent and free of political constraints.
To read on ProMed that diagnostic testing should now be "out of the laboratory" is very cheering. On Saturday August 11 (2007), a ProMED moderator, in the course of a five paragraph comment about the UK situation, (www.promedmail.org)wrote:
"....In the past -- that is, pre-1980 -- when we killed "contact" herds it was not questioned and laboratory techniques then could not have handled the volumes of samples. 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..." (More)For six years warmwell and others have been asking that the analysis of samples should happen at the place where samples are actually taken, using already available, ever more affordable diagnostic kits, rather than be taken by car, train or air to the reference laboratory. Results can now be obtained in the field within minutes rather than hours and days, can detect FMDv before the onset of clinical disease and the "irreversible actions" such as we saw at Hunts Hill farm can be avoided. The "prototype RT-PCR" mentioned to our correspondent seems not to have been used on the suspect pig there. It is hard for an outsider to discover much - yet we read here for example:
"...We have performed 5 minimal infectious dose experiments with FMDV type O1 Lausanne using the original "Pirbright set-up" although using updated technology ......Two diagnostic methods for very fast, sensitive and specific detection of FMD virus using real time RT-PCR has been submitted, one of them for UK Patent and the other for international patent protection. DEFRA has naturally been granted unrestricted access to testing of samples from the UK using the new assays..."Even on a farm with a lame pig so close to an IP, it seems that precipitate action might have been avoided. Mention of patents does make one consider what the reason might be for the apparent secrecy surrounding the use of rapid diagnosis in the UK . Ironic perhaps then that we were reliably told this week that "the whole portable PCR field will be transformed with very cheap machines that are highly automated within the year".
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