Annex 2 Reports of the working sessions
DISCUSSION GROUP - MANAGEMENT - Session I. 12th December 2001
Contingency planning is vital and must be constantly reviewed, updated and tested. Resources and communication are key components.
Rapid diagnosis and information on the epidemiology of each outbreak is the key to effective disease management
No one management approach can be applied in all circumstances. Each outbreak is different and its characteristics will determine the most appropriate response.
In certain circumstances a slaughter policy by itself may be the appropriate method of disease control. In others, additional methods could be used including vaccination. In all circumstances effective biosecurity measures and movement restrictions are essential.
Whatever management method is used should be acceptable to all interested parties and the public. The public must be given accurate information about the safety of products from vaccinated animals.
Scientific developments must be incorporated into future EU disease management policy as quickly as possible
The majority of the group felt that the ultimate goal should be to remain FMD free without vaccination. The OIE criteria for regaining FMD-free status after using vaccination as an aid to eradication may need to be reviewed.
The NSP Elisa test should be internationally validated and recognized by the OIE and EU as soon as possible.
The forthcoming revision of the EU FMD Directive should provide for greater flexibility in the control options available to Member States to manage future FMD outbreaks.
DISCUSSION GROUP - PREVENTION - Session I. 12th December 2001
Review the EC import conditions to ensure that all fields are adequately covered and strengthen their implementation on the ground
Improve the prevention and control measures to reduce the possibility of spread of virus between holdings and review animal transport conditions
Improve the resources and powers available to veterinary services to ensure that they can react quickly and effectively in an emergency disease situation
Import Policy (prevention of introduction of FMD virus into the Community)
To review the EC import policy in fields which may not be adequately or completely controlled at present including an examination of the conditions for imports such as for ship chandlers and free warehouses
Prohibition of imports of small quantities of products unless conforming to EC standards and declared at point of introduction, improve risk communication in this respect
Prevention of Spread between Holdings
Strengthening of animal movement control systems and traceability including animal transport conditions and in addition improvement of biosecurity in individual holdings
Ensuring that contingency plans cover all the elements related to prevention and control i.e. to ensure that laboratory facilities can gear up in an emergency, an adequate antigen, reagent and vaccine bank, improve biosecurity, training and awareness of all the stakeholders
Improve co-operation and information exchange to involve all of the stakeholders in a shared responsibility concerning surveillance and prevention
Need to assess how non-commercial animals fit into the overall policy in particular with regard to FMD
Strengthening veterinary services to ensure that these services are capable of carrying out their tasks and have the necessary powers and resources
Ensure that the necessary mechanisms and resources are available in order to detect and respond rapidly to an emergency or suspicion of any significant disease such as FMD
There needs to be a global view and assistance concerning FMD as this is not just a European issue but actions could also be taken in countries where FMD is endemic or appears sporadically and which will be of benefit to both sides
DISCUSSION GROUP - STRUCTURE - Session I. 12th December 2001
Densely populated areas are considered a major risk factor in the spreading of FMD.
Specialisation of livestock production, e.g. piglets versus fattening pigs' production, involves more transport and increased risk.
Control is the responsibility of all the operators in the food chain. Pro-active control and auto-control are key elements.
Contacts between farms should be limited. The different farm units are also concerned. All movements should be registered and traceable.
Vehicles must be cleaned and disinfected after each transport.
Limits should be imposed on the increasing number of movements of live animals, long distance transport and the use of staging points. These restrictions should take into account economic, welfare and sanitary aspects.
A quarantine period is recommended after each introduction of animals of susceptible species into the farm.
Priority should be given to well equipped veterinary services and resources to ensure adequate epidemiological surveillance. This is particularly true for several third countries.
Collection and transmission of information between countries should be improved.
The EU and other developed countries could help third countries, where necessary, to establish improved information systems and veterinarian control procedures. Collaboration over frontiers is vital.
DISCUSSION GROUP - VACCINATION - Session I. 12th December 2001
FMD prevention and control is a complex, strategic endeavour impossible to achieve in the absence of a credible and effective veterinary service infrastructure.
Positive trends in research for safer, more potent vaccines and diagnostic tests made great advances in FMD control possible and one can envisage new important advances that could help tremendously in the control of the disease.
FMD control strategies vary greatly throughout the world. Mass prophylactic vaccination is not a viable option for countries that have achieved infection-free status. The new awareness of people for animal welfare and the new role of animals in economically advanced society, however, make it very difficult to implement policies that rely entirely on "stamping out."
Countries should invest in strengthening veterinary services' capability and readiness to carry out emergency action with special emphasis on emergency vaccination and surveillance.
Research in the field of the development of vaccines and diagnostic tests should be encouraged and financed adequately. Priority should be given to the development of high quality vaccines and the development and validation of diagnostic tests, with special emphases on discriminatory tests capable of differentiating vaccinated from infected animals.
Innovative control strategies incorporating vaccination as a tool to reduce destruction of animals to a minimum without compromising the trade in animals and products and new surveillance methods, exploiting to the maximum new diagnostic tests, should be developed and consensus should be sought at the international level within the OIE framework.
Effective communication with consumers and retailers in relation to safety of products derived from vaccinated animals should be implemented.
DISCUSSION GROUP FARMERS AND AGRIBUSINESS
Session II. 13th December 2001
When an evaluation is carried out it should take account of the role of the retail sector, the cost of both raw materials and final product
There appears to be a need for a better understanding of the role of current husbandry practices, animal movements and transport, in particular, within a rural area
Loss of export trade can be significant and it is important to achieve consistency between export and import conditions
THE IMPORTANCE OF AWARENESS
There appears to be a lack of awareness of all the stakeholders in the essential elements concerning control and enforcement of emergency outbreaks of disease
The need to combine legislation and controls with good awareness policies to ensure the conditions for a good implementation to minimise risk situations
Combination of control of movements and limiting movements taking into account the specific characteristics and structures in place in that area. There is a need to balance the size of a restricted area and the number of movements of animals in relation to the capacity of the local production plants.
Activities, other than those directly related agriculture businesses eg forestry and tourism, may be seriously affected during a crisis
It is important that all stakeholders are involved in the risk management process during a crisis to ensure that there is a collective responsibility and concerned stakeholders can take their fair share of their direct responsibilities.
Effects of the management of a crisis and how to handle transport of food products should be examined
Analyse in detail the impact on current husbandry practices and on agri-business in order to minimise the consequences of an outbreak without jeopardising the control of the disease in particular in relation to movement of animals and putting products on the market
Involve the farming community and agri-businesses in the collective responsibility during a crisis
Enhance farmers and other stakeholders awareness in minimising risk situations
DISCUSSION GROUP PUBLIC AND CONSUMERS'
Session II. 13th December 2001
The measures taken against an outbreak of FMD have a serious impact on the public and consumers. In particular some of these measures may:
Give rise to emotional doubts about the control methods used ;
Create a negative image of farming ;
Cast doubt on the safety of food ;
Interfere with their everyday life ; and
Impose significant costs on the taxpayer.
Many of these concerns arise from a lack of understanding of the disease itself as well as the control strategies available. This is caused, in part, by poor communication from the authorities, particularly in relation to FMD - an animal disease that does not affect human health.
Authorities must improve the way they communicate information on animal diseases with consumers and the general public by bringing their representatives into the decision making process when developing contingency plans for disease control.
Experts in disease control have a duty to ensure that the messages they convey to the public are as clear and consistent as possible. Since the majority of the public receive their information from the news media, authorities should ensure that all facts are made publicly available in an open and transparent way.
Authorities should consider whether disease control and carcase disposal policies can be adapted to meet the concerns of consumers and the public whilst still controllling and eradicating the disease. They will need to explain that the range of options available for FMD eradication is relatively limited and each of them has advantages and disadvantages.
DISCUSSION GROUP - WELFARE - Session II. 13th December 2001
An ethical dimension is recognised:
Waste of food resources
There is a false assumption that vaccinated animals are of lesser value than non-vaccinated animals. This might lead to control policies that are in contrast to the well being of animals.
In countries where legislation on animal welfare exists, specific additions, in relation to FMD, do not appear to be necessary. However there are problems relating to enforcement and applications of this legislation.
The methods and materials for mass killing and field culling available today are not fully satisfactory.
The responsibility of changing the present assumption on the lower value of vaccinated animals when compared to non-vaccinated animals should be taken up.
Research should be endorsed and financed with the objective of developing new methods and refining existing methods for humane killing of animals and destruction of carcasses under epidemic disease outbreak conditions. Further research is needed on impact of carcass disposal on the environment.
Harmonised standard methods and procedure of humane killing and disposal of infected animals should be developed at the international level within the framework of the OIE.
Higher priority shall be given to the enforcement and application of animal welfare legislation especially during outbreaks.
DISCUSSION GROUP SOCIETY - SESSION II. 13TH DECEMBER 2001
Topics such as massive killing under media attention, animal welfare and respect for food production are a major concern of the public.
Most people do want a new strategy. The method of massive culling is called medieval.
The control policy has increased the gap between the authorities and the consumer.
Communication towards the broad public about diseases and control strategies is important from the very beginning of an outbreak.
Ethical issues concerning the slaughtering of animals are a matter of perception. This is subjective and determined by the cultural and geographical diversity.
The main problem is not the massive slaughtering on the farms, but the destination (burning) of the animals.
Preventive killing might still be necessary in certain circumstances.
We should be careful with the use of the term vaccinated products of animals' towards the consumers.
There is need for an international strategy which includes an appeal of co-responsibility of all actors.
Research on vaccination and the use of a discriminatory test, together with accompanying measures, has to be promoted.
A communication strategy should be developed to make the public understand the disease control measures.
Objective analysis of psychological effects of FMD crisis on farms should be executed.
Stronger control on borders is necessary: the public will accept this if it understands the reasons behind.
A large majority wants to explore another strategy to avoid further killing on a massive scale. The introduction of ring vaccination adapted to the local situation has to be examined.