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Foot And Mouth Disease May Spread Through Shedding Skin Cells

Skin cells shed from livestock infected with foot and mouth disease could very well spread the disease.

In a new paper appearing in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory scientist Michael Dillon proposed that virus-infected skin cells could be a source of infectious foot and mouth disease virus aerosols. His proposal is based on the facts that foot and mouth disease virus is found in skin and that airborne skin cells are known to transmit other diseases.

The proposal could lead to new methods for surveillance for foot and mouth disease (as in settled dust), the development of more effective control measures, and improved studies of the persistence of the disease in the environment. The research also may be applicable to how other infectious diseases are spread.

Foot and mouth is a highly contagious viral disease capable of causing widespread epidemics in livestock. The foot and mouth disease virus (FMDV) has multiple known routes of transmission. These include direct contact (animal-to-animal contact at mucous membranes, cuts or abrasions), indirect contact (such as contaminated bedding), ingestion (contaminated feed) and the respiratory or airborne pathway (inhalation of infectious aerosols).

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