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Institute of Diagnostic Virology (IVD)

National Reference Laboratories for Foot- and Mouth-Disease, Swine Vesicular Disease and Vesicular Stomatitis

Foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) is a highly contagious disease of cloven-hoofed animals and occurs in many non-European countries, in particular in huge parts of Asia including Turkey, in most countries of Africa and in parts of South America.

The disease is characterised by high fever that declines rapidly after two or three days and the development of vesicles and erosions inside the mouth and on the feet. For adult animals, the disease usually is not fatal, but the animals may suffer long lasting weight loss and in cows, milk production can decline significantly. In young animals, there may be a high mortality due to myocarditis. Due to its potentially catastrophic effects, FMD still is one of the most important animal diseases. The extreme contagiousness of the disease requires comprehensive movement restrictions and stamping out measures to control an outbreak, causing high economic losses. Due to the liberalisation of trade and travel, the disease may be reintroduced into Europe at any time.

The most important tasks of the national reference laboratory for FMD is the immediate laboratory investigation of suspect cases. In case of an outbreak, the isolated virus has to be characterized in order be able to recommend an appropriate vaccine. When the outbreak has been brought under control, serological investigations have to support decisions on the lifting of restrictions. Other tasks of the laboratory are investigations in connection with the import and export of animals and the testing of vaccines and diagnostic kits. The reference laboratory also provides scientific support for the registration of vaccines and diagnostic tests for Germany and gives advice on the improvement of disease control regulations.

The national reference laboratory for FMD is combined with the reference laboratories for swine vesicular disease (SVD) and vesicular stomatitis, which are clinically indistinguishable from FMD and therefore important as a differential diagnosis.

  • Testing of samples for antigen and genome
  • Serology
  • Contact point for federal, state and other authorities for questions regarding the diagnosis and control of FMD
  • Validation, standardization and improvement of diagnostic procedures
  • Participation in ring trials organized by the EU
  • Participation in EU and FAO working groups and research projects (Research Group of the European Commission for the Control of Foot-and-Mouth Disease)
  • Research on diagnostic procedures, vaccines and prophylactic measures for FMD
  • Virus isolation in cell culture
  • FMD- and SVD antigen ELISA
  • FMD genome assay  (real-time RT PCR)
  • SVD genome assay  (real-time RT PCR)
  • FMD serology: LPB-ELISA, SPC-ELISA, NSP-ELISA, neutralization tests
  • SVD serology: ELISA and neutralization test
  • Vesicular stomatitis serology: neutralization test
  • FMD-DISCONVAC 226556
  • Verordnung zum Schutz gegen die Maul- und Klauenseuche (Ordinance on the protection from foot- and mouth disease)
  • Verordnung zum Schutz gegen die vesikuläre Schweinekrankheit (Ordinance on the protection from swine vesicular disease)
  • Tierimpfstoff-Verordnung (Animal vaccine ordinance)
  • Richtlinie 2003/85/EU (COUNCIL DIRECTIVE 2003/85/EC of 29 September 2003 on Community measures for the control of foot-and-mouth disease)