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Notes of meeting held at Defra, Nobel House, London on 25 August 2005

The Deputy Chief Veterinary Officer chaired the Expert Group which comprised the following:

CVO Scotland (nominee) CVO Wales (nominee) CVO Northern Ireland (nominee) Defra Exotic Diseases Prevention and Control Division Defra Veterinary Exotic Diseases Division Defra New, Endemic and Zoonotic Diseases Division Defra Veterinary Research Division Institute for Animal Health State Veterinary Service HQ Contingency Planning Team State Veterinary Service Epidemiologist Meteorologist

1. The DCVO welcomed attendees. The notes of this and future meetings would be published on the website except where matters of security or confidentiality were discussed.

Role of the National FMD Expert Group

  1. The DCVO introduced a paper which set out the role of the Group. He explained there is a legal basis for the Group in Article 78 of the EU FMD Directive, the paper expanded on this and set the Group in the context of the FMD Contingency Plan. The CVO was keen to base all disease planning around Experts Groups and Animal Disease Policy Groups (ADPG) with the latter being the Policy making body. The DCVO would act as the link between both groups. The Expert Group had a fairly wide role in “peacetime” which was well reflected in the paper. The role of the Expert Group and ADPG had been tested during the recent Newcastle Disease outbreak and had worked well. Others would have an input to the Expert Group including the National Epidemiological Experts Group (NEEG) and Science Advisory Council Epidemic Diseases (SAC ED); the latter in particular was there to challenge decisions on a science basis. In peacetime the group was likely to meet in London but there was room for flexibility including use of video or telephone conferencing.
  2. It was agreed that for the present the group would meet quarterly although the paper would be amended to state “twice yearly or more frequently if required”. It might also be possible to hold meetings with a more restricted attendance to address specific issues and/or combine with other Experts Groups. The paper would be subject to regular review and be retained as the Terms of Reference for the Group.
  3. There was some discussion about the UK wide remit of the Group and how it would operate in support of Devolved Agriculture Departments in the event of an FMD outbreak in their territories. It was agreed that flexibility would be vital to deliver maximum benefit and that the paper should be amended to acknowledge the support to Devolved Administrations in the event of an outbreak. Scottish, Welsh and NI colleagues undertook to collaborate to produce a form of words for insertion to show the relationship to the Devolved administrations.

Latest quarterly report from IAH on FMD

5. The IAH rep. introduced the report which, as reference laboratory, IAH are required to produce on a quarterly basis. The report was currently structured based on contract deliverables but could be presented differently if required. The main event covered by the report was the spread of the Asia 1 strain of FMD in a number of Asian countries.

Priority for next potency tests

6. The Expert Group agreed priorities for vaccine potency testing.

Overview of laboratory testing and other FMD R & D

  1. Progress on NSP testing strategy – The IAH rep. introduced a paper and explained that serological testing was required to detect cases of sub clinical infection such as might be anticipated in vaccinated stock. Six tests are currently available for detection of infection in vaccinated animals, 4 of which could be obtained commercially. IAH now had a good understanding of how effective these tests could be in cattle, but some issues remained regarding the confidence with which absence of infection could be substantiated in smaller herds. A combination of NSP tests could be recommended which could deliver satisfactory performance in all but small herds. The IAH rep. also remarked that probang testing has limitations due to lack of sensitivity and feasibility.
  2. Defra epidemiologists suggested that further work was required to explore with IAH how NSP tests could be used in conjunction with other evidence to confirm disease freedom. It was agreed they should consider the draft paper from IAH and produce their own paper on the way ahead which should in particular take account of not vaccinating small herds. A progress report would be provided to the next Expert Group meeting.
  3. Research progress (PCR) – The IAH rep. explained that a lot of work had been carried out in this area. There was now considerable confidence in this approach and robotic systems had been developed to permit large numbers of tests to be carried out in labs. The use of PCR in the field was less well developed. This would depend on collaboration with the people who provide the technology for preparing and analysing samples in the field and various options were being explored. Lateral flow devices, although not foolproof, were currently available commercially and undergoing evaluation. They could be used if able to detect the particular strain of FMD virus involved in an outbreak.

Vaccination issues

  1. Vaccination tactics for FMD control – ADPG had accepted a paper on this subject when it was presented to them but only until anything else became available as a result of NSP testing. Vaccinating outside/in would prevent the disease overtaking the vaccinators but the question of where is the outside and of airborne spread remained. In addition messages would need managing regarding the non-vaccination of small herds and there were also the views of people who were concerned at being included or excluded from the vaccination programme. It was agreed that the role of the FMD Expert Group was however to consider the science behind the best way of approaching an outbreak and leave these issues to be dealt with in other forums.
  2. Composition of the vaccine bank – An update was provided on the current stock of the vaccine bank and the reason why particular strains were held. It was concluded there was possibly some scope for restructuring the vaccine bank, within the current total stock level. A recommendation on this would be made at the next meeting.
  3. Protection afforded by vaccines – The IAH rep. reported that there was a lack of information on how vaccines protect against onward transmission. Work was now underway on this and there were a number of variables that would need to be taken in to account including the number of times an animal was vaccinated, the interval between

vaccinations, the strength of the vaccine and its antigenic relationship to the challenge virus, and the level of challenge. Further potency testing was to take place at IAH and a project proposal on this had been submitted to Defra. Other factors to be taken account of in planning vaccination were how quickly the disease is moving, sub-clinical spread and airborne spread. The last two in particular needed further work.

Field determination of Dangerous Contacts

13. A National Epidemiological Experts Group (NEEG) project to produce a decision tree was underway in conjunction with the State Veterinary Service (SVS). An update on this would be provided to the next FMD Expert Group.

Update on Cost Benefit Analysis (CBA) modelling and associated Decision Support Tool (DST)

14. Defra Exotic Diseases Prevention and Control Division (EDPC) reported that work was ongoing on developing the use of the CBA and DST and governance issues.

Progress on arrangements for protection of Rare Breeds in the event of a disease outbreak

15. Defra EDPC introduced a paper on the construction of a Rare Breeds Data Base. It was agreed that this should be expanded to cover questions relating to the use of the Data Base for consideration at the next FMD Expert Group meeting.

Timing, issues and venues for future meetings

16. It was agreed that the next meeting would take place on 23 November 2005 in London. A paper proposing dates for further meetings was distributed for consideration. Venues for future meetings and the use of video conferencing would be considered at the November meeting.

Defra Exotic Diseases Prevention and Control Division October 2005