Intervet announces FMD marker test

Press release

Boxmeer, 11 October 2001

Intervet, Akzo Nobel's animal healthcare business, has developed a test for Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) to indicate virus infection in vaccinated animals. The test is now ready for registration. With this modern test it will be possible to differentiate infected animals from those purely vaccinated. The marker test, combined with modern FMD vaccines, enables authorities to use vaccination in FMD control strategies and avoid massive preventive culling of healthy animals.

Foot and Mouth Disease is a highly contagious disease for pigs, cattle, sheep and goats. There is no risk to human health. The cornerstone of FMD control in Europe still is culling of infected and contact animals ("stamping out policy"). The general public, veterinarians and farmers protested loudly against this massive culling of healthy animals for ethical, emotional and economical reasons during the latest outbreaks in spring 2001. Logistically, the culling of large numbers of animals is very difficult to realise because of limited rendering capacity. However, the non-vaccination policy has been set up for reasons of international trade. Countries free of FMD may prohibit animal or meat imports from vaccinated countries, as conventional tests cannot differentiate between antibodies caused by infection or by vaccination.

Modern FMD vaccines are highly purified and contain only those proteins essential for protection. The non-essential proteins (NSP; non structural proteins) are removed during the purification process and vaccinated animals do not produce antibodies against NSP. However, infected animals produce antibodies against NSP. Hence these vaccines may be used as "marker vaccines".

The Research Group of the European Commission for Control of Foot and Mouth Disease concluded that the test, based on the NSP 3ABC, provided the best experimental results and recommended the development of this test for routine use. Intervet's fully owned subsidiary Bommeli Diagnostics, Switzerland, in collaboration with the World Reference Laboratory for FMD in Pirbright (U.K.) and the Instituto Zooprofilattico in Brescia (Italy), has developed the ready to use 3ABC marker test.

This ELISA test is not restricted to a certain strain and is reliable for all serotypes of the FMD virus. The test has been validated with standard and other well-described sera from the institutes in Pirbright and Brescia and from the Dutch central veterinary research institute, ID-Lelystad. In the examinations on these sera, both the specificity and the sensitivity of the test were demonstrated to be more than 99%.

The marker system, using NSP-free vaccines in combination with the 3ABC test, now

enables authorities to use vaccination in FMD control strategies. Vaccination can be used to reduce virus circulation, whilst authorities are still capable of monitoring the spread of the FMD virus. The marker system precludes massive preventive culling of healthy animals and reduces the culling to only those farms indeed infected. Animals from vaccinated farms not carrying antibodies against the 3ABC protein, do not present a risk for further spread of the disease and can enter the food chain. The 3ABC marker system also allows vaccination of valuable animals (breeding stock, rare breeds, game parks, zoos) without hampering Government disease control schemes.

Note for the editor:

Intervet, a business unit of Akzo Nobel and headquartered in Boxmeer, The Netherlands, with sales of EUR 1.020 million in 2000, is focused on the research and development, manufacturing and marketing of veterinary products. Products include vaccines for the prevention of infectious diseases, anti-infectives, anti-parasiticides and products for fertility management. All of these products are intended for use in a variety of animal species, including poultry, pigs, cattle, sheep, goats, horses, fish and pets. Intervet operates globally with its own marketing organizations. The company currently employs around 5,000 people.

Akzo Nobel, based in The Netherlands, serves customers throughout the world with healthcare products, coatings and chemicals. Consolidated sales for 2000 totalled some EUR 14 billion (USD 13 billion, GBP 8.5 billion). The company currently employs 68,400 people in 75 countries. Financial results, for the third quarter of 2001 will be published on October 24, 2001.
For further information please contact:
Dr. Sabine Schueller
Corporate Communication and Public Affairs
Intervet International bv
Tel: +31 (0)485-587085
Fax: +31 (0)485-587083