The multiplex assay, which has yet to be validated, simultaneously screens for DNA and RNA viruses. It can detect FMD and six other look-alike diseases in livestock including vesicular exanthema of swine, swine vesicular disease, bovine viral diarrhea, bluetongue, bovine herpes-1 and the parapox virus complex. The collaborative project, funded by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, involved researchers from the LLNL, DHS' Plum Island Animal Disease Center, University of California-Davis, USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and the National Animal Health Laboratories Network.

Using this test, the NAHLN laboratories could test for all seven diseases in about 5 hours thus greatly enhancing the speed of diagnosis which is critical during a FMD outbreak. One estimate indicates that a FMD outbreak would cost the U.S. approximately $3 million for every hour's delay in diagnosis.

The collaborators also developed a high-throughput, semi-automated system that permits the analysis of 1,000 animal specimen samples within a 10-hour period using two robotic workstations and two technicians. This platform increases the normal sample processing capacity by about 10-fold per day and is adaptable for use with other assays including those that test for human diseases.

Source:  Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory