New pen-side test for FMD

A rapid on-farm ('pen-side') test for foot-and-mouth disease has now become commercially available


Dr Nigel Ferris, of the Institute for Animal Health's Pirbright Laboratory, has been collaborating with Svanova Biotech AB since 2002 to develop the test, which was launched in April. The small, hand-held "lateral flow" device involves the same technology as is used in home-pregnancy tests.

An extract of a small sample of tissue taken from an animal suspected of having FMD is spotted onto the bottom of the device. This then flows up the device. If FMD is present in the sample, a line forms within 10 minutes.

The test can easily be used on farms, meaning that a result can be obtained faster than sending a sample to the laboratory. Appropriate action can then be taken, based on firm, timely evidence.

Dr Ferris said: "In effect, we are taking the laboratory to the farm, for on-the-spot testing to support clinical diagnosis."

The development has been supported by Defra and partners within the European Union LAB-ON-SITE project http://www.labonsite.com/.