Foot-and-mouth disease is a contagious viral disease of cloven-hoofed animals (e.g. cattle, sheep, pigs) and can cause severe economic losses to the farm animal industries. The aim of this thesis was to quantify underlying mechanisms regarding transmission of FMDV. With data from past animal experiments we identified the factors which are associated with the amount of virus shed by infected animals and thus may be of importance for transmission of the virus. In an experimental study, the contribution of the environment on the transmission of FMDV was investigated by using a new mathematical model in which the contribution of the environment on transmission was incorporated. Roughly 44% of the transmission of FMDV occurred through the environment that was contaminated with se-excretions from FMDV infected animals. The role of the different species on the transmission of FMDV was investigated with a transmission study of FMDV between infected sheep and naïve cattle. Sheep were found to be less infectious than cattle but similarly susceptible. Using a so-called next-generation matrix, transmission of FMDV in mixed cattle-sheep populations (with different proportions of cattle and different proportions of vaccinated animals) was quantified and the effects of different vaccination strategies against FMDV were analysed. In mixed populations of cattle and sheep, transmission of FMDV is higher when more cattle are present. In populations with more than 14% cattle, targeting vaccination to cattle only can be sufficient to control FMDV.
The results of this thesis show that transmission of FMDV can occur via a contaminated environment, (without animal presence) and that sheep seem to play a limited role in the transmission of FMDV.
These results can be used to improve the control measures to prevent and control FMDV in different animal populations.