Sampling the environment is an effective way to detect foot and mouth disease, according to a paper published in Applied and Environmental Microbiology, a journal of the American Society for Microbiology. The sampling method, swabbing environmental surfaces where livestock are kept, can be easily performed and can detect viral genetic material that can persist in the environment well beyond the time when livestock cease manifesting clinical signs of disease. Unlike taking clinical samples, those taking samples need not be able to recognize clinical signs of foot and mouth disease. Thus, smallholder farmers in developing countries could take the samples in lieu of veterinarians. In the study, the investigators took swabs from numerous environmental surfaces within each of 24 smallholder farms at nine different sites in the Kathmandu Valley of Nepal, where local veterinary technicians had identified clinical signs of the disease in livestock. The investigators took swabs from sheds where livestock were kept, areas around the house where they were tied up, and other locations where the animals had been. They sent these samples for evaluation at The Pirbright Institute in Pirbright, Surrey, UK, where Dr. Colenutt is a postdoctoral scientist. "In the future, we hope to be able to apply portable diagnostic technologies to achieve rapid results in the field," said Dr. Colenutt.