The latest news from Intervet March 2002..

"The test has been validated with standard and other well-described sera from the institutes in Pirbright and Brescia and from the Dutch central veterinary research institute, ID-Lelystad. In the examinations on these sera, both the specificity and the sensitivity of the test were demonstrated to be more than 99%. The evaluation dossier is now finalized and will be send out to EU Commission and OIE."

Notes on vaccination and transmission received March 8th 2002

These authoritative notes refute the strange claims of those who - like Prof Mark Woolhouse - still insist that If we replace slaughter with vaccination we will almost certainly lose control of this epidemic. Culling is simply far quicker and vaccines are not designed to interrupt transmission nor to stop an ongoing epidemic in its tracks." a statement quite extraordinary in the light of recent advances.

EU fmd contingency plan 1993

1999 EU emergency vaccination strategy (pdf)

In a discussion on Farming Today (20 April 2001), Professor David King, Government Chief Scientist, was adamant that

the risk of infection from FMD-vaccinated livestock to other livestock is negligible...

Feb 18 ~ We note that Argentina got the go-ahead to export much earlier than otherwise expected as they followed sufficient biosecurity surveillance that included serological testing for vaccinated versus infected animals

(even though these tests are not yet standardised). They and the Authorities were presumably following the Forward Strategy document (rather than the over-zealous diktats of "12 months after the slaughter of the last vaccinated animal" ).

Feb 1 ~ Dr Ruth Watkins' authoritative submission to the Royal Society Inquiry in Edinburgh.

Jan 19 ~... the logical way to control the disease is by routine prophylactic immunization." From: Foot and mouth disease control: the next steps by A J Beale in January's Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine

Dr Paul Sutmoller's presentation at the government Royal Society Inquiry session on Vaccination. Jan 15th 2002. Extract:

FMD facts: some elementary questions and answers from a US site.

Distinguishing infection from vaccination

Prophylactic Vaccination - a paper with contributions by eminent scientists in the field. Jan 2002

Dr David Paton Head, Department for Exotic Disease Control Pirbright Laboratory writes about Pirbright's view of latest test methods

Argentina's Chief Vet and others in transcript of the BBC Countryfile programme Sept 9th

The FAQs page from UBI (United Bio Medical) which poses questions about what advantages there are in NOT vaccinating

FMD Discussion papers reproduced on the excellent
(free access is now closed unfortunately")
Published Discussion Documents and Official Risk Assessments for the 2001 UK Foot-and-Mouth Disease Outbreak N.B. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the prior permission of the copyright holders - For contact details see each individual document

The arguments against vaccination published in September on the Defra website - and comments.... See this extract from Alan Beat's letter of Sept 19th

Available vaccine

(information copied vebatim from the Merial website)
Vaccine at Pirbright

Standard "vaccination" letter from NFU and Michaela's response

The rationale for using emergency vaccination for foot and mouth disease From: Report of the Scientific Committee on Animal Health and Animal Welfare Adopted 10 March 1999

July 10 ~ Farmer Lawrence Wright makes an application to vaccinate his stock.

His reply received July 25.

The tail end of the epidemic and the exit to FMD-free status by Dr Ruth Watkins

Vaccination, Journalism and H.L.Mencken

July 19 The Times
reported that the Court of Justice of the European Communities rejected the claim of a Dutch pet owner and two animal wefare organisations. Ms Jippe, who owns 4 sheep and two goats, claimed that to ban her from vaccinating her animals against FMD was invalid and contrary to Community law.

"ensuring the welfare of animals did not form part of the objectives of the EC Treaty"

was the view of the court and it justified its rejection of Ms Jippe's plea largely by means of the same arguments we have been hearing in this country against vaccination:

These, as quoted by the Times, are shown below . Notes from this website including extracts from Dr Ruth Watkins' article that are relevant follow in red

Where outbreaks of foot-and-mouth disease were established, preventive vaccination did not enable the disease to be eradicated

Virtually 100% of animals respond to the oil-based vaccines, given IM, by making protective antibody that is specific to the serotype of FMD virus in the vaccine. All carriers in domestic animals eventually stop carrying virus- sheep and goats by about 9 months and cattle and Water Buffalo by 3 years. Pigs are not thought to become carriers.Thus vaccination leads to elimination of virus from the population or country.

particularly since vaccinated animals could continue to carry the virus and could contaminate healthy animals. 
A vaccinee has not been shown to infect another animal whether vaccinated or not.Vaccinated carriers have never been shown to spread infection to another animal. It remains a hypothetical possibility only.

Moreover, given that in the current state of scientific knowledge it was impossible to distinguish between vaccinated and infected animals, the development of the disease could not be effectively monitored.
"Diagnostic potential of MAB-based elisas for antibodies to non-structural proteins of Foot-and-Mouth Disease virus to differentiate infection from vaccination." E. Brocchi, M.I. De Diego, A. Berlinzani, D. Gamba, and F. De Simone. Source: The Veterinary Quarterly, vol. 20, Supplement 2, May 1998
Abstract:This paper summarizes the development of monoclonal anti-bodies to non-structural proteins of FMDV to differentiate infection from vaccination.
(It might be added that the policy adopted by Britain of kill first, lab-test later and not testing at all the killed animals on contiguous farms can hardly be said to have "effectively monitored" the development of the disease.The EEC directives clearly state that vets are responsible for seeing that samples are collected from any holding in which infection is suspected. Is infection NOT suspected at these contiguos premises? No one has any idea at all of the actual number of infected animals in this outbreak.)

It was impossible, even where no outbreaks occurred, to guarantee that the virus was not present in a vaccinated herd.
(But this is to confuse the presence of antibodies with the infectious disease as, for example, in BBC reports of the culling in Wales. Even in the unlikely event of vaccinated animals developing the disease " Animals infected subsequent to their vaccination are likely to shed virus at a low titre, and are unlikely to infect other vaccinated animals that have responded with a good level of antibody. Nor have these animals ever been implicated in spread of infection when they subsequently become persistently infected."
See Ruth Watkins' fuller notes )

Irrespective of those sanitary justifications, a preventive vaccination policy aimed at protecting all animals in the Community would involve significantly greater expense and drawbacks in terms of controls than a non-vaccination policy, having regard to the number of animals to be vaccinated, some 300 million in the Community, the multiplicity of the types of virus and the frequency with which the vaccination would have to be carried out, every six months.
The vaccine is licensed for use in the UK. The EEC acknowledges that the current epidemic in the UK is unlike any in Europe in the last 10 years.

We are on our own and can propose to the EEC how we intend to manage it.

Protection can be conferred after one dose of high potency vaccine or after two doses 3 to 4 weeks apart of commercial vaccines
As to cost, non-vaccination in this country has already cost £ 2.5 billion and that figure is rising.

a vaccination policy would limit the export possibilities open to stockfarmers and producers in that state.

This is the crux of the matter. It has nothing to do with "sanitary justifications" or even veterinary justification -it is merely an economic standpoint brought about by the Community itself (and Britain in particular) in 1990.

Lastly, the non-vaccination policy jointly adopted by all the member stateswas designed to guarantee, on the basis of a high level of health, the free movement of goods in the internal market.

The "goods" so described here are often moved around the internal market under conditions that most consumers cannot bear to contemplate - any more than they care to dwell on the slaughter policy pursued with such desperate "rigour" for the past five months.

According to well established scientific opinion, such measures remained the most effective way of combating foot-and-mouth disease, whether or not vaccination had been carried out. It followed that the policy of non-vaccination was not on any view manifestly inappropriate in the light of the objective of controlling foot-and-mouth disease.
There is no veterinary reason to slaughter vaccinated animals.Vaccinated animals are not infected by vaccination, nor are they infectious to other animals if infected after vaccination. Exposure of unvaccinated new stock to contaminated material or infected wildlife will result in another outbreak.Vaccinated animals prevent further acute infection after restocking.Vaccinated animals are safe to eat or for the consumption of products.

However, the arguments in favour of Minister van Landbouw, Natuurbeheer en Visserij in Case C-189/01 appear to have been unopposed.

Ms Jippe's wish to protect her own animals could not be countenanced in the opinion of this EU Court.

Courage, not killing, is the answer Mrs Beckett MAGNUS LINKLATER The Times July 19

Vaccination is still the only answer to the plague ravaging our countryside

July 17 Professor Sir William Stewart (at Porton Down) says on the
Today Programme

"We have seen the rapid spread that can occur if one is not adequately prepared". Asked by Sue McGregor about vaccine for FMD he replied, " That is a question you will have to ask the government not own view is that it should have been used - but wasn't."

The letter that has been sent to Carwyn Jones dated 15th July


" ...those present endorsed a proposal that a meeting should be requested with you, and your advisers, to discuss and consider the limited vaccination scheme proposed by Dr Watkins."

The NFU leadership's extraordinary stance over vaccination tends to be reported without question by journalists who know nothing of the issues. David Hill, for example was less than candid when he spoke to the reporter from Western Morning News (see comment from Alan Beat) who later was "taken aback" when told the facts.

Ruth Watkins, the clinical virologist who has won the respect of the Welsh farmers, has written clearly on the subject

a paper by Ruth Watkins explaining what all farmers with stock need to know about FMD vaccine

Fuller papers by Ruth can be sent to you if you contact the website. The tail end of the epidemic and the exit to FMD-free status by Dr Ruth Watkins

Important Vaccination Meeting (July 11th)See report of this meeting

MONTGOMERY PAVILION, ROYAL WELSH SHOWGROUND, BUILTH WELLS, AT 7.30 PM WEDNESDAY 11TH JULY 2001.It is very important that as many farmers as possible attend this debate.

Vaccination in Wales

Doc.2374/W198 ( which is obtainable from the Welsh National Assembly)

Para. 3 Part 1.
"No person shall vaccinate an animal against fmd except under authority of and in accordance with any conditions specified in a licence in writing granted by the National Assembly for Wales."

From the article in The Vetinerary Record Published March 24, 2001 Volume 148, Number 12, pages 358-360 by Professor Joe Brownlie, Professor of Veterinary Pathology at The Royal Veterinary College.
The European Vaccine Bank was established by the EU and, on 14th January 2000, set out the designated FMDV antigen banks at three sites in Europe ....The FMDV type O strain Manisa is a closely related strain antigenically to the present PanAsia strain (Pirbright Laboratories - pers. commu.). These 5 million doses are then the quantity of vaccine that can be requested for immediate use for the present outbreak. Clearly this is insufficient for a general vaccination of all susceptible sheep, pigs and cattle, though there would be sufficient for strategic vaccination. It provides us with an invaluable safety net if all else fails

All else has failed

Sunday 8th July ~

Foot and mouth: vaccination the answer, says EU

by Geoffrey Lean, Environment Editor
Independent on Sunday

..."There has been no case of foot and mouth in the Netherlands since 22 April, and the country resumed meat exports 10 days ago, giving the lie to the central claim here that vaccination would make exports impossible. Other disasters predicted in Britain that vaccinated animals would pass on the disease and that consumers would refuse immunised meat also failed to materialise."


Monday 2 July 2001Farmers apply for vaccination permission

..The couple who are hoping to win permission to vaccinate are Lawrence and Karen Wright from Mortehoe. They own a closed flock of organic sheep and are among the few producers of organic ewes milk in Britain.

June 28 an highly significant extract from a

major economic analysis of the options for FMDcontrol published in the current issue ('Spring 2001') of the new magazine'EuroChoices' ~ .Are the costs of maintaining disease-free status without a more flexible attitude to vaccination becoming too high to justify?

Barry Wilson's article about vaccination in last month's " British Dairying"

From the Merial website....Because there are seven serotypes and a large number of significant variants within some of the serotypes,

Merial has a substantial library of vaccine strains to provide cover against newoutbreak viruses as they occur.
Thus Merial was in a position within a few days of the first case in the UK to confirm that several of its vaccinestrains, including O Manisa, were appropriate to protect against thedisease.

Depending on the epidemiological situation, FMD vaccines may contain one or more strains and monovalent, bivalent and trivalent vaccines are commonplace where the valency refers to the numbers of serotypes in the vaccine. Vaccination is either by the subcutaneous route for aqueous vaccines for cattle, sheep and goats or the intramuscular route for oil adjuvanted products for these species plus pigs. No oral vaccines areavailable. Merial vaccines are licensed in the UK for use in cattle, pigs,sheep and goats and while not licensed for use in zoo animals would be expected to confer immunity.

A possible European shift in policy on foot and mouth disease was signalled at the meeting by one of the country's leading clinical virologists. (June 18)

Describing herself as a newcomer to sheep farming bu with a lifetime's experience of dealing with viruses in the human field, Dr. Ruth Watkins fromLlanddeusant, Carmarthenshire, said all the indications now pointed to vaccines being a safe and effective means of tackling the disease.

"I have made it my business to speak to people fromall over the world who are experts in the productionand use of foot and mouth vaccines.

"Vaccination has been in use since the l950's and isan inactivated kill vaccine. Vaccinated animals are not infected with the virus and there is no veterinary reason to slaughter them at all.

"It is extremely efficacious; being oil-based and given intramuscularly, in sheep you can expect almost100 per cent zero conversion."I would be glad if our human vaccines performed as well and yet you know what spectacular success we have had with human vaccines" she said."There are also tests to distinguish a vaccinatedanimal from one that has been infected. These have been in use for several years and are about to beaccepted by the EU.

"The tests look for non-structural proteins,antibodies to those proteins that are made in animals that have been infected. Those proteins are not in thevaccine.

"The vaccine is safe and effective. Used in thecorrect way, the EU might well agree to use it in instances around every known outbreak, and for felland upland sheep in order to contain spread."Used in such a way we could halt all new infections within days and get back to normal. It is very inexpensive at around 50p per shot, and is already licenced in the UK."In my view the use of vaccination has been sidelined and given a very bad press by the NFU throughout thiswhole epidemic"

Describing her as a far more experiencedvirologist than he would ever be, Tony Edwards (ChiefDEFRA vet for Wales) said he would not argue with herover the science."she is absolutely right. Vaccine technology has movedon remarkably and I would not be at all surprised if,following this outbreak, that Europe starts looking at whether vaccination is a sensible way forward for the future."

World's leading fmd scientists request international scientific committee to urgently reconsider vaccination to control current UK epidemic

Prof Brown, Dr Simon Barteling and Dr Paul Sutmollerrequest Annual meeting of worldwide scientists of theOIE to review use of limited vaccination to eradicate the disease.

Prof Fred Brown, the leading world specialist in F&MD,has backed Dr Paul Sutmoller and Dr Simon Barteling intheir request to the OIE, that vaccination, as a meansof controlling the disease in the current UK outbreak,should be urgently reconsidered by the OIE Group atits meeting in Paris today.

The OIE (Office International des Epizooties) is holding its annual meeting of over 150 worldwide scientists and considering 'The importance of emerging diseases in public and animal health and trade.'

In a letter to Dr Vallat, the Director General of the OIE, Dr Sutmoller and Dr Bartleing, say "We are international scientists/consultants in the field of FMD with longtime experience in this field. We have great concern at how Britain and Holland in practice carry out the eradication of FMD."

The letter states: "We have formulated a number of questions (attached) for the delegates and ask them to consider these questions and, on that basis, to takesteps to re-discuss consequences for internationa trade for different scenarios of eradication of FMD."

Prof Fred Brown of the United States Department of Agriculture, based at Plum Island, has written in support "I agree completely with the questions posed by Drs Barteling and Sutmoller and urge the OIE delegates to consider these very carefully."

The list of 20 questions, enclosed below, describes the current situation in Holland and Britain and the impact the current policies of slaughter and contiguous culling are having on the economy, loss of valuable breeding lines, ruining the lives of farmers and that some have committed suicide, the risk of the disease spreading throughout Europe and the resultantslaughter of many healthy animals. The authors alsostate "that large scale slaughter cannot be carried out in a way that containment of the disease is guaranteed and that therefore outbreaks proceed."

Questions also relate to the various tests which existto differentiate between vaccinated and carrier livestock and that there is a social responsiblity for veterinarians and epidemilogists in the implementation of their proposals.

"For these reasons we ask OIE to open discussions to reconsider at short notice the consequences of the application of (limited) vaccination for eradication purposes as an adjunct to slaughter, including thedestiny of the vaccinated animals."

The Foot & Mouth Group are extremely grateful to Prof Brown and Drs Bareling and Sutmoller for putting this matter directly to the OIE meeting. It is this body which ultimately decides internationally how FMDoutbreaks should be controlled and so it is of paramount importance that vaccination is considered atthe highest level.

The current methods of control, based on slaughtering ever increasing numbers of healthy animals has causedeconomic and social distress. The policies of the 48hour cull of contiguous premises, slaughter onsuspicion and dangerous contact killing has resultedin the indiscriminate loss of 100,000's of healthyanimals.

This degree of collateral culling was never envisagedwhen the OIE laid down its initial control procedures.Neither have the OIE ever endorsed the 48 hour cullpolicy of the UK Government. In addition this means ofcontrol was not used in the '67 outbreak.

An urgent and immediate review of control methods isneeded now. The Group urge the OIE to put to the UKGovernment that the use of (limited) vaccination wouldachieve a swifter and less costly return to diseasefree status, than the current indiscrimate cull andslaughter policies.

Contacts:Dr Simon Barteling: Tel: 0031 206 207 688

Dr Paul Sutmoller: Tel: 0031 252 371 369

Prof Fred Brown: 001 631 323 3294(US number - please allow for 5 hour time difference)

F&M Group: Janet Bayley: 01285 644319
Alicia Eykyn: 01494 711649
Ruth Watkins: 01550 740660




The National Foot & Mouth Group have today backed a call by Dr Ruth Watkins that graziers with sheep flocks on the Welsh hills should be allowed to vaccinate their animals.

Dr Watkins, who is a recently retired virologist, has asked DEFRA that she, and other graziers, be given permission to vaccinate their flocks of Welsh mountain sheep. The graziers run hefted flocks on the Brecon Beacons and Welsh Mountains. The 'cynefin' as they are locally known, literally translates as 'sheep with their own habitat'.

Dr Watkins said "The sheep are an integral part of the landscape in Wales and derive from ancient flocks going back almost 2000 years. They simply cannot be replaced. There are a number of unique genetic strains. Any sheep new to the hills wanders off not knowing where to go, nor can its owner find it again. With the 'cynefin' the lambs go up to the hills with their 'cynefin' mothers and learn from them their place on the mountain, where to go for shelter or water, and are familiarised with their flock and their environment.

"If we vaccinated all the sheep on the hills and common land the circulation of virus would cease on the commons. The welfare problem of providing winter feedstuff and winter pastures would be solved. Unless this action is taken we will be facing huge welfare issues throughout the summer, autumn and winter. When the 'cynefin' sheep return to their farms in the autumn none will return with an acute infection so a resurgence of the disease will be avoided. Only 5% of sheep carry virus for as long as 9 months so if we vaccinate now and halt the spread in the 'cynefin' flocks none will remain carriers by next summer."

The move has been welcomed by local businesses whose trade has been severely affected by the closure of the countryside and the devastating losses suffered by the tourism industry throughout spring and early summer.

Angela Whitlock of Celtic Canoes and Lodge said "As soon as we can get the countryside opened up and the footpaths and bridleways can be used again then we may be able to retrieve something of the summer season. If we carry on with no bookings and no income throughout the rest of the season then we will see many more businesses go to the wall."

Roy Miller, a farmer from near Welshpool, said "As soon as we vaccinate the clock starts ticking. But if we carry on never knowing when the last outbreak is going to happen it could be months before we can start planning and making arrangements to get stock moving and markets reopened. We've got to be realistic about when we're going to get the export markets back and we've got to get this disease stopped in its tracks. We need certainty. If the 'cynefyn' sheep go up on to the hills without vaccinating them we're looking at months before we're ever going to be clear of the disease. Many organisations are now saying openly that the subject of vaccination has never had a proper airing. It certainly deserves it now."

The Group believe that preventative inoculation of susceptible animals requires proper consideration. Without vaccination the disease will carry on breaking out throughout the summer and beyond with massive and disproportionate losses to tourism and the wider rural economy. Rural communities and their infrastructure have suffered enough and decisive action is needed now.


Janet Bayley: 01285 644319 Ruth Watkins: 01550 740660 or 07980 827273

Angela Whitlock 01497 847422

The scientific papers supporting Dr Watkins submission are available on request.