Four female cattle and three male African buffalo (Syncerus caffer) which were free of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) virus were held together on an island in Lake Kariba, Zimbabwe. The buffalo were experimentally infected with FMD virus type SAT2, developed generalised disease and became virus carriers. While the buffalo were in the acute phase of the disease the susceptible contact cattle did not show lesions, no virus was recovered from them and they did not develop serum antibodies. However, five months later the cattle developed severe foot-and-mouth disease. Direct nucleotide sequencing of the virus used to infect the buffalo and of the virus from the in-contact cattle showed that the two isolates were almost identical. The results suggest that in nature it is possible for the virus to be transmitted from buffalo to cattle under the influence of factors not yet defined, and that there was very little change in the nucleotide sequence of the virus during the carrier period of five months.
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