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Scientists get to the root of foot and mouth disease

Foot and Mouth Disease is a highly infectious viral disease affecting hoofed animals like cattle, deer, sheep and goats. The disease is often fatal, mostly affecting  domesticated animals and causing huge losses to their owners. The contagious nature of the virus quickly destroys  entire herds. The culprit behind the disease, the Foot and Mouth Disease Virus (FMDV) or picornavirus,  tweaks the cells of the infected animals and forces it to make copies of the virus. Once infected, the animals  develop severe fever, followed by blisters forming in the mouth and on the hoofs, thus giving the virus its name. Now, a collaborative study by scientists from several Institutions including the ICAR – Directorate of Foot and Mouth Disease, India, have tried to understand this infection better. By visiting farms with infected cattle and monitoring them for almost two years, they have tried to measure various factors about the virus and the host. The study could be a guidebook in developing stronger vaccines and drugs to combat the deadly virus.