Effective Cure For Foot-and-Mouth Disease is Possible

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Photo Courtesy: tomorrows-history.com

Can the Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease be cured effectively? According to a team of researchers from the University of Leeds who have been studying an enzyme  that closely replicates the virus that causes the disease, there’s a possibility. The project is funded by the Biotechnology and Biological sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and as published in the Journal of Virology.

The “Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease” causes fever or even death, especially for younger children and younger animals. It’s to be noted that the virus strain that causes FMD in animals is different from that of the one that causes the disease among humans.

Although relatively uncommon in the U.S and other western countries, Asia suffers from outbreaks every now-and then. The disease has a reputation for being one of the most easily, readily, and efficiently transmissible diseases on earth, as the virus is known to reproduce quickly. HFMD can unleash devastation so quickly  — be it among humans or cattle — that it can prove to be expensive for victims in multiple ways.

To get a perspective, consider this: a 2001 outbreak of the HFMD in U.K resulted in a total annihilation of about 7 million sheep and cattle amounting to losses worth 8 billion pounds. Even more recently, FMD struck the Republic of Korea that caused another $2.7 billion. On an estimate, the Australian government predicts that an FMD outbreak for 3 months and 12 months respectively can cause anywhere from  $AUD 7.1 billion to $AUD 16 billion .

All of this is for the losses accounted for in terms of cattle, sheep, and other animals.

In terms of humans, it’s just as common. In Vietnam alone, according to report released by WHO and as opined by Clarissa Gomez of Health Reform Watch, over 42,000 individuals suffered from it – an increase from about 10,000 to 15,000 cases registered in 2008. Most of the victims were 3 year old children or younger.

The virus that causes FMD spreads from one person to the other through touch (unwashed hands). The virus also resides in sewage and surrounding environment, which makes it even more difficult to contain it.

The virus produces fibrous structures also called as fibrils in propagation of the disease. The team at the University of Leeds stumbled on a molecule that can prevent these fibrils from forming in the first place thereby giving the researches a window of excellent opportunity to explore possibilities of a cure.

Although it’s too early to predict plausible results, it’ll be interesting to wait and watch if the Foot and Mouth Disease can be pinned to the wall using this new development.



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