|Swine vesicular disease (SVD) was first observed in Italy in 1966, where it was clinically recognised as foot-and-mouth disease (FMD). SVD virus (SVDV) was subsequently isolated in an FMD vaccine trial in Hong Kong. At the beginning of the 1970s, it spread to several other European and Asian countries: Bulgaria, Austria, Italy, Great Britain, Poland, former Soviet Union (Ukraine), Romania, France, Germany, Belgium, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Japan, and lasted until the beginning of the 1980s. After that period, SVD outbreaks were sporadic. The disease was almost forgotten until it flamed up again in 1992 in the Netherlands. Once again it spread to several other European countries, such as Belgium, Spain, Portugal and Italy. Since 1995, SVD has been reported in Europe almost exclusively in Italy, except two isolated outbreaks in Portugal. Since the last two SVD outbreaks in 2014 in the Potenza province (Basilicata region), no new SVD outbreaks have been reported either in Italy or in any other European country.
The clinical resemblance of SVD to FMD highlights the need for its reliable identification and discrimination. Differentiation from FMD, though not possible clinically, is feasible if appropriate diagnostic tests are applied. Improvements in diagnostic techniques are making differential diagnosis of vesicular disease increasingly affordable, feasible and easy, and nowadays, portable devices are capable of a rapid and accurate differentiation of SVDV from FMDV infections on site. As these tests become economical and as competent laboratory services become more and more accessible, the restrictions originally imposed on SVD because of its similarity to FMD will no longer be justified. This, together with the fact that in recent years SVD has been predominantly asymptomatic, makes it necessary to rethink the measures currently in place for the control and diagnosis of SVD. Therefore, by the decision of OIE, the SVD chapter was removed from the Terrestrial Code in January 2015. Consequently, the European Commission (EC) informed the Pirbright Institute that the EU Reference Laboratory for SVD would no longer receive financial support. Moreover, the EC position is that notification requirements have ceased in January 2015.