High seroprevalence of foot and mouth disease in Laos: call for nationwide vaccination campaigns and disease surveillance.
- Clinical and Applied Virology
Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) virus remains enzootic in Lao People's Democratic Republic (Lao PDR) due to insufficient control measures, including low vaccination coverage. We assessed virus epidemiology and evaluated knowledge, attitude and practice of Lao farmers and animal health stakeholders towards FMD to support politics in devising evidence-based control measures. Sera were collected from 972 domestic ruminants in 3 provinces of Lao PDR: Vientiane Capital, Vientiane and Xiengkhouang provinces. Seroprevalence of antibodies directed against non-structural proteins of FMD virus was assessed using a commercial ELISA. Positive sera were further characterized by detecting antibodies directed against the structural proteins of FMD serotypes O, A and Asia 1. Information about farm management, biosecurity practices, livestock trade, as well as past FMD outbreaks was obtained. Overall 35% (340/972) of the ruminants had antibodies against FMD virus with a similar seroprevalence in each province. Seroprevalence depended significantly on the ruminant species (p<0.001): 61% of buffaloes, but only 41% of cattle and 15% of goats were seropositive. While antibodies against FMD serotype Asia 1 were absent, 87% (297/340) of the seropositive animals had antibodies against FMD serotype O and 32% (110/340) against FMD serotype A. Many seropositive animals (31%) had antibodies against both serotypes O and A. The majority of the farmers could name the symptoms of FMD and the susceptible animal species. Although many had likely observed FMD outbreaks in their herd and were aware of FMD vaccines, only few vaccinated their animals. This study confirms that FMD remains enzootic in at least 3 provinces of Lao PDR where vaccination coverage is low. It also shows the relevance of nationwide active and passive disease surveillance, as well as of vaccination campaigns using bivalent FMD vaccines and targeting all susceptible animal species.