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Control of foot-and-mouth disease
  1. Nick Honhold1,
  2. Nick Taylor2,
  3. Sam Mansley3,
  4. Paul Kitching4,
  5. Adrian Wingfield5,
  6. Pam Hullinger6 and
  7. Michael Thrusfield7
  1. 4/5 Grandville, Edinburgh, EH6 4TH
  2. Veterinary Epidemiology and Economics Research Unit (VEERU) & PAN Livestock Services, University of Reading, School of Agriculture, Policy and Development, Earley Gate, PO Box 237, Reading RG6 6AR
  3. Auchinraith, Kinnordy Road, Kirriemuir, Angus DD8 4JL
  4. Provincial Chief Veterinary Officer, Ministry of Agriculture, 1767 Angus Campbell Road, Abbotsford, British Columbia, V3G 2M3, Canada
  5. The Paddocks, 38 Middleton Way, Fen Drayton, Cambridge, CB24 4SU
  6. Department of Veterinary Medicine and Epidemiology, University of California, Davis, 1 Shields Avenue, Davis, CA 95616, USA
  7. Veterinary Clinical Sciences, University of Edinburgh, Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, Easter Bush Veterinary Centre, Roslin, Midlothian EH25 9RG
  1. e-mail: nick.honhold{at}

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WE refer to the recent paper in Science by Charleston and others (2011) on the relationship between clinical signs and transmission for an infection with foot-and-mouth disease virus (FMDV) and to the News report of this paper in Veterinary Record (May 14, 2011, vol 168, p 498). The results presented are interesting, and provide welcome support for conclusions derived from careful analysis of the field data from the 2001 epidemic of FMD in the UK (mentioned below), but we feel that they are not the breakthrough seemingly implied in the paper and the media reaction to it. We consider that the results must be interpreted with caution and that the conclusions to be drawn are more limited than suggested.

First, the paper reports results using a single strain of FMDV (the strain responsible for the UK outbreak of 2001) to infect only one species of animal (cattle). However, and very importantly, it is well known that FMDV varies significantly between its many strains and …

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