Not year on year widespread prophylactic vaccinationLetter from the
National Foot and Mouth Group- sent to Daily Telegraph and Warmwell. August 14 2007
May I respond to some of the concerns raised regarding Foot and Mouth Disease Vaccination. The vaccination control that is proposed when faced with an outbreak of FMD is that of emergency protective vaccination, in close proximity to the centres of disease, not year on year widespread prophylactic vaccination.
The process involves vaccinating animals with inactivated vaccines produced from highly purified antigens which are free from Non Structural Proteins (NSP) of the FMD virus. These vaccines confer immunity quickly. In addition, even if the animal is already incubating FMD, it greatly reduces the amount of virus that animal produces. This process enabled the Dutch to bring their 2001 outbreak under control in just eight days.
However the chief advantage in using NSP free vaccines is that a differential test can then be used to determine which flocks and herds have responded solely to vaccination, and thus are free of disease, as opposed to those flocks and herds which have responded to infection and therefore need to be culled.
So robust is this approach that in May 2002 the Office International Des Epizooties (OIE), the body which oversees international disease free status, changed the International Animal Health Code to allow countries to return to disease free status 6 months after vaccination, as opposed to 12 months.
In addition in September 2003 the EU adopted a revised Directive on the Control of FMD which also endorsed this approach. Both organisations agreed that the use of NSP free vaccines, followed by the application of differential tests, was acceptable to control outbreaks of the disease and to enable the nation state to demonstrate it had achieved freedom from disease.
Furthermore, the EU have also made provision for member states to apply for derogations which allow vaccinated meat, milk, and products destined for the home market to be treated no differently from non-vaccinated product, once testing has been completed.
As regards costs; as most animals would then be able to live out their economic lives, the costs of vaccination would be far less than the cost of slaughter, compensation, transportation and disposal. The only loss would be regarding the export market of live vaccinated animals and un-boned vaccinated meat.
In the current outbreak, the disease has, hopefully, been contained and controlled with only two infected premises and thus there has been no recourse to move to vaccination. However if the outbreak had become more widespread and dispersed it is welcome news that the Government has moved quickly to secure 300,000 doses of emergency vaccine and put vaccination teams on stand by.
National Foot & Mouth Group
Co-ordinating Office - 3 The Common
Siddington, Cirencester, Glos, GL7 6EY
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