VIDO’s first Animal Health Summit brings animal health stakeholders together to prepare for foot and mouth disease

Oct 30, 2023

For almost 50 years, VIDO has researched infectious diseases of livestock and developed solutions—this includes sharing information that will help producers improve preparedness and disease prevention.

On August 24th, we hosted a half-day summit on foot-and-mouth disease (FMD). VIDO will host the animal health summit biannually to cover a pertinent topic of interest and bring stakeholders together to facilitate knowledge exchange and preparedness.

FMD is a highly contagious viral infection that affects cloven-hoofed animals, including cattle, swine, and sheep. The virus spreads rapidly and poses a significant threat to animal health and the agricultural sector.

Canada has been fortunate to remain FMD-free, but preparedness is critical. The consequences of an FMD outbreak would be devastating to our industries. This is why VIDO prioritized the gathering of stakeholders from livestock industries, academia and government at the VIDO Animal Health Summit— a venue to learn about the disease, the response strategies used in the UK, and the tools Canada has in place.

The Summit attracted participants from the lamb, swine, cattle, and dairy industries across Canada as well as government and industry stakeholders. It culminated with a panel discussion and robust Q&A session where all attendees engaged and provided meaningful dialogue. This engagement-enriched discourse underlined both VIDO and Canada’s dedication to safeguarding animal health and agriculture.

Presentation highlights included:  

Bryan Charleston, Director of The Pirbright Institute
Presentation: “Foot-and-mouth disease virus”
Dr. Charleston presented on the foot-and-mouth disease virus, including transmission, detection, recent outbreaks, and the frequency of various lineages circulating around the world.
Click here to view a recording of Dr. Charleston’s presentation.

Gordon Hickman, Head of Exotic Disease Control, DEFRA
Presentation: “The UK experience in FMD outbreak response”
As the Head of Exotic Disease Control for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in the UK Government, Mr. Hickman has a depth of knowledge of the UK experience with FMD, including the country’s outbreak response and resulting steps to ensure eradication.
Click here to view a recording of Mr. Hickman’s presentation.

Charles Nfon, Executive Director of the National Centres for Animal Disease and Tom Smylie, Senior Staff Veterinary at the Office of the Chief Veterinary Officer, CFIA
Presentation: “The use of vaccination in FMD outbreaks in Canada – how we got here”
Presentation: “Canadian FMD preparedness: laboratory capacity for rapid detection”
Dr. Smylie presented on emergency vaccinations as a way to eradicate disease spread. He discussed current impediments and policies and the role of WOAH in setting rules for safe trade.Following this presentation, Dr. Nfon presented on Canada’s preparedness capabilities for laboratory testing and detection of FMD.
Click here to view a recording of Dr. Nfon’s presentation.
Click here to view a recording of Dr. Smylie’s presentation.

Andrew Van Kessel, Director of Research – VIDO
Presentation: “VIDO: supporting foreign animal disease preparedness”
Dr. Van Kessel spoke about VIDO’s contribution to foreign animal disease preparedness and highlighted specific research projects featuring VIDO scientists and their impact on foreign animal disease i.e. African swine fever (ASF), Contagious Bovine Pleuro-Pneumonia (CBPP), High-path avian influenza (HPAI).
Click here to view a recording of Dr. Van Kessel’s presentation.