The quantitative relationship between the exposure dose of foot-and-mouth disease virus (FMDV) and subsequent infection dynamics has been demonstrated through controlled inoculation studies in various species. However, similar quantitation of viral doses has not been achieved during contact exposure experiments due to the intrinsic difficulty of measuring the virus quantities exchanged between animals. In the current study, novel modeling techniques were utilized to investigate FMDV infection dynamics in groups of pigs that had been contact-exposed to FMDV-infected donors shedding varying levels of virus, as well as in pigs inoculated via the intra-oropharyngeal (IOP) route. Estimated virus exposure doses were modeled and were found to be statistically significantly associated with the dynamics of FMDV RNA detection in serum and oropharyngeal fluid (OPF), and with the time to onset of clinical disease. The minimum estimated shedding quantity in OPF that defined infectiousness of donor pigs was 6.55 log10 genome copy numbers (GCN)/ml (95% CI 6.11, 6.98), which delineated the transition from the latent to infectious phase of disease which occurred during the incubation phase. This quantity corresponded to a minimum estimated exposure dose of 5.07 log10 GCN/ml (95% CI 4.25, 5.89) in contact-exposed pigs. Thus, we demonstrated that a threshold quantity of FMDV detection in donor pigs was necessary in order to achieve transmission by direct contact. The outcomes from this investigation demonstrate that variability of infection dynamics which occurs during the progression of FMD in naturally exposed pigs can be partially attributed to variations in exposure dose. Moreover, these modeling approaches for dose-quantitation may be retrospectively applied to contact-exposure experiments or field scenarios. Hence, robust information could be incorporated into models used to evaluate FMD spread and control.
- Foot-and-mouth disease