Where in the World Is ... Guy Loneragan, BVSc, PhD, West Texas A&M University

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Guy Loneragan, BVSc, PhD, West Texas A&M University, had two recent trips, to South American and to Australia.

A recent trip to Buenos Aires and Santa Rosa (La Pampa), Argentina in late April/Early May was to develop and explore some specific research opportunities,” Loneragan says. “On the whole, this trip was far more successful than I could have hoped for.” 

Loneragan notes that a couple of years ago while touring West Texas at 75mph, an Argentine veterinarian said to him, “I don’t understand. In the U.S., you have such wonderful roads but drive so slowly.”  “Now I understand his comment,” Loneragan says. “On the 600-km drive from Buenos Aires to Santa Rosa, the speed limit of 130 km/hr (80mph) is not enforced and vehicles either drive >100 mph (brand new cars) or <40 mph (1960s and 1970s-era grain and cattle trucks)!”

To highlight the importance of cattle to the Argentine way of life, within most provinces as well as federally, there is an Undersecretary of Cattle Production.

FMD Conference in Australia

In March, Loneragan recently spent time in Melbourne Australia at the Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) International Symposium and Workshop.

Loneragan says it was a good meeting where updates in terms of FMD epidemiology, detection, vaccination, and control were presented. “Several improvements have been made in all areas but there still appears to be a few fundamental pieces missing,” he says. “Most models infer that the time from introduction to detection is key and delays can cost >$100M/hr in some models.” However, most research is targeting better and quicker sample testing instead of focusing on how to find the initial infected herd faster. “This certainly isn’t as sexy science as say a new assay platform, but it is clearly needed.  Potentially this could be facilitated by syndromic surveillance.” 

One positive aspect is the shift in philosophy toward vaccine use. More and more workshops or exercises are coming to the conclusion that simply relying on “stamping out” is impractical and personnel are overwhelmed very quickly. The role of strategic vaccination and targeted surveillance in the face of an outbreak is now more important than ever. Also, the value of vaccination to live is increasing as it is clear that regardless of how quickly an outbreak can be controlled, regaining export markets takes a lot longer than anticipated – the minimum (3 months) is rarely the case.

The role of wildlife is still a black box, Loneragan says. “One presenter commented that there is one feral pig for every Australian.”

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