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EXTRACT from the letter from Dr Roger Breeze. Read in full below

  1. Why in 2010 - in Japan of all places - is a government vet turning up to a reported case of suspect FMD without the tools to make a diagnosis? For sure, if positive and missed, this will be the most important decision of that personís career and a catastrophe for animal agriculture. An on-farm PCR test for FMD on April 9 (using the $50 Tetracore FMD real time PCR test, www.tetracore.com) on a $50,000 IdahoTechnology RAPID PCR machine (www.idahotechnology.com) would have given the answer within an hour. Since this is a preclinical test that detects FMD-infected animals 2 to 3 days before they show clinical signs of disease a pooled sample from several animals could have been used. The best science could have given the answer in one hour: in fact it took 11 days.
  2. And to confirm that infection, why does Japan not have the Tessarae resequencing microarray at the NIAH so that within 5 hours ALL the pathogens in the sample can be identified and 1500 bases of the actual genetic sequences of all those present can be directly defined (www.tessarae.com)? A PCR-positive sample taken on April 9 could have been identified by microarray the same day along with actual sequence information - in fact it was 14 days later before the official confirmation.

  3. How is it that on 19 April the local government veterinary service tests by PCR for all the diseases except the one that matters - FMD? Is it because that regional lab did not possess the FMD PCR test used at NIAH? (Just as regional labs the world over defer to the National Lab as if it were still 1999!) If the lab is equipped and competent to run PCR tests for bluetongue, bovine viral diarrhoea-mucosal disease, infectious bovine rhinotracheitis and Ibaraki disease, why not FMD? For the want of a $50 PCR test kit in the right place Japan is paying dearly.

  4. Why is the source of an FMD outbreak or infection always "unknown or inconclusive"? Why are we not applying modern microbial forensic tools to trace the virus to its source outside Japan by its biological signature (Carrillo, C. and Rock, D. Molecular epidemiology and forensics of RNA viruses, in Microbial Forensics, Editors Breeze, R.G., Budowle, B. and Schutzer, S. E., Elsevier, 2005, 174-185)?