Public Meeting to Discuss Vaccination Against Foot and Mouth Disease - Penrith Auction Mart 16th September
With grateful thanks to Julian Thurgood at
Vaccination is the way to bring foot and mouth under control rapidly in Cumbria, a packed forum at Penrith auction mart was told at a meeting organised by 'Heart of Cumbria' on Sunday 16th September, 2001.
Tom Lowther introduced Professor Fred Brown FRS OBE, Britain's leading expert on the disease, who was joined by Dutch experts Dr Simon Barteling and Dr Paul Sutmoller. Cumbria was chosen as one of two venues for the talks because it has been one of the worst-hit counties in Britain. A similar meeting was held in Bristol the previous day. Prof Brown has studied the disease for the past 46 years and has condemned the Government's handling of the epidemic as "complacent".
The Speakers - Professor Fred Brown, OBE, FRS is the visiting scientist at the USDA's Plum Island Animal Disease Centre. He has worked with foot and mouth disease virus and other animal viruses since 1955 and is one of the acknowledged world's experts on the subject. He firmly believes there is an urgent need to validate a test which identifies infected animals, whether vaccinated or not. Further, he feels an internationally sponsored program to eradicate the disease in much the same way as was done for smallpox and is now well underway for poliomyelitis would benefit the animal health industry.
Dr Simon Barteling is an international consultant on FMD, having been the head of the Department of Vaccine Production and Research, as well as head of the EU Community Co-ordinating Institute for FMD. He was consultant at IDL and Onderstepoort Institute and for the South African government on FMD. He has partipipated in no less than 23 missions on FMD in a multitude of countries and has written 48 scientific papers of which half have been in refereed journals. He was instrumental in the fight for vaccination in the recent oubreak in Holland.
Dr Paul Sutmoller is a veterinarian graduate from the Rijksuniversiteit in Utrecht and has worked for more than 35 years as a virologist and epidemiologist on the prevention, control and eradication of FMD in Latin America and the Caribbean. Since 1985 he has been the International Animal Health Consultant a/o for PAHO, World Bank, US Department of Agriculture, Netherlands Technical Corporation, OIE. He is presently involved in risk analysis of animal diseases for the import/export of animals, animal products and germplasm, and carries out seminars and workshops in many countries.
Arranged by the rural action group, Heart of Cumbria, the forum at the Hired Lad at Penrith Farmers and Kidd's auction mart drew some 300 farmers, vets and other interested people from a wide area.
Prof Brown said the vaccine had been available to give disease protection within four or five days and avoid the tremendous loss of uninfected animals.
Maff had been asked in March if the current outbreak could be used to validate a test able to detect all 7 types of foot and mouth in two hours, but said it was overwhelmed with what it had to do and "maybe later". The trio of experts said they wanted to see the use of rapid detection procedures and farm-gate vaccinations to eradicate the virus. Professor Brown demonstrated and described the 'Smart Cycler' machine for rapid diagnosis. He said the invention would allow vets to diagnosis the disease within two hours compared to the days it takes a laboratory.
Dr Barteling warned that the virus ravaging Cumbria was a "guerilla" strain which often went underground. "Restocking in an unvaccinated situation means risk," said Dr Barteling. "To control disease rapidly, vaccination is the answer." No vaccinated animal had been known to cause new disease, Dr Barteling added.
Dr Sutmoller said people in the UK had been eating meat from vaccinated cattle for 30 years in imports from South America. Britain might have to reconsider its "disease-free" status. In February it became a high-risk country which exported foot and mouth to several other countries, said Dr Sutmoller.
It was also revealed that all three speakers had been asked to meet the Government chief scientific adviser Professor David King in London the next day. This was seen as indicating that vaccination might still be under consideration, despite Prof King's assurances to a Cumbrian delegation last week that the slaughter policy would overcome the disease
Professor Fred Brown's talk [12 mins]
Hello everybody, I think the Lake District is a wonderful place to visit, Ive cycled round it, motored round it. I come from Burnley. I know this area well, it's a most beautiful countryside, its super to be here, and the sun shone as we drove up.
Anyway, foot and mouth, why should I be talking about foot and mouth, if I was giving a talk on foot and mouth, anywhere, a scientific meeting, I'd be impressed by who'd turned up to listen, my goodness me, I've never had an audience like this in my entire career.
Let me say that I started work on foot and mouth in 1955, I worked at the institute at Pirbright, and my major interest was to find out what the virus was, the disease had been shown to be caused by a virus in 1898 by two Germans, Loughter and Bosch. I entered in 1955 when the first picture of the virus had been published by the people in America, Howard Bachrack and his colleagues, and people at Pirbright. I entered at that stage, and my interest in the virus was exactly what is it made of, and can we get the real structure of it, and that was my career in Britain until it ended in 1989 when I went to the States, showing we could get the structure of the virus in absolute minute details and this is important to understand how the virus multiplies and what the it is made of.
Now - what the disease itself, why when you get the disease, what can you do about it, you can either slaughter, or you can vaccinate, or you can do both. Well Britain has never vaccinated. The continent of Europe certainly did from 1952 until 1992 and that eventually controlled the outbreaks in Europe and there were no outbreaks after 1989 until they stopped vaccinating. Vaccination stopped in 1992 and in 1993 there was an outbreak, so clearly vaccination was a great barrier to infection and the control of the disease. So I speak very much as a supporter of vaccination.
How you can protect the animals by vaccinating them the great record what happened -100,000 cases in Holland, France, Germany every year came down dramatically after the time they started vaccinating, so vaccination is the thing that I would also support.
But what you do about controlling the disease if you get an outbreak what is happening in this current outbreak. you identify an outbreak and then in the 3 kilometre radius you kill everything in it. well - so a lot of animals that were not infected were killed and you know that better than I do so what do you do how can you do avoid having to do that - you can either do what was done - all the killing - or the alternative would have been to vaccinate starting from the outside of a ring however big you draw it and then start vaccinating from the edges and come inwards. You can get protection against the disease probably within 4 or 5 days if you vaccinate.
Its known what the virus was, there was vaccine available to do that, and that would be an option which was not taken. Clearly I'm not in the decision making role but that was an option which wasn't adopted; instead they killed. The terrible thing here is that so many animals were killed that were not infected. Could we have avoided this? Well the answer is yes, because as I've said my career in foot and mouth has been to understand the virus how it multiplies and how can we diagnose the thing.
I started life as a chemist and therefore my approach has been chemical. What you can do it to recognise the virus through its nucleic acid and so all you need to do is to take tissue from a animal that is suspected or not suspected of having the disease does it contain any virus you can take a piece of tissue, you can take an oral swab, or a nasal swab, a drop of blood and say is there any virus there.
What you do then is to take the nucleic acid out of it. That contains all the information and foot and mouth virus contains RNA - there are two nucleic acids - DNA and RNA - foot and mouth contains RNA. You can take a piece of the nucleic acid from the virus and amplify it and then show it by the method here - all you do you take the sample - the tissue - you extract the nucleic acid which takes minutes - then you put that extract into this tube - there it is - that test tube contains enzymes which amplify the nucleic acid. You put a fluorescent coat on the nucleic acid and then that shows up on the screen and so you've got the RNA of the virus here, you've got the enzyme in there, you press down, completely clean, then you put it into one of these here. You can do 16 samples at a time on this machine, you press the button and the answer comes up here.
The whole thing takes 2 hours and it's so sensitive. If I tell you that if you've got a lesion in a cow's tongue, a blister, it will contain about 10 billion particles of the virus maybe more, this instrument detects 100 particles so you wouldn't miss any animals that were infected its so sensitive, but it would also tell you if it was negative so innocent animals need not have been sacrificed, you wouldn't miss a positive. If there was a danger of animals being infected you wouldn't miss it.
And so all these can be done it can be done at the farm gate - you don't go onto the farm and risk spreading the disease. Somebody goes onto the farm gets the sample, puts it in the cell, disinfects the cell, brings it to the little lab you set up in the back of a lorry, in in maybe a mobile lab, and you do that test and it will show up on the computer screen - like that. All that you get - is that you are going along - nothing happens, if it's positive it comes up like that in colour, and this test detects any foot and mouth virus - all of them - all the 7 types it will do that. It's super.
And you know that here are three other viruses that can cause foot and mouth like lesions - it distinguishes that, it says this is foot and mouth, swine vesicular, I don't know whether you've encountered it when it was in Britain - its been here several times, if it swine vesicular disease that is causing the lesions it won't register, it's not foot and mouth, but we've got probes to detect swine vesicular.
To extend this - and this is not just for foot and mouth the future of instant diagnosis, in the doctor's surgery, within the next few years, you will have all the reagents for all the common diseases that you might have - you go to the doctor and he does what he does and he says its a virus - he'll be able to tell you in minutes that you've got flu, or you've got the common cold or you've got whatever - that's the future and its the future that general diagnosis throughout the world. not just for foot and mouth - and all this can be hooked up to a central control so that the answers that you are getting at the farm gate is being transmitted anywhere in the world. This is the future of rapid diagnosis its a shame that it wasn't used. OK.
Dr Simon Barteling's talk [30 mins]
I am pleased to be here and to discuss culling versus vaccination - the different elements of it. I will first explain who I am - I'm Simon Barteling from the Netherlands, I am not working as long in foot and mouth as Fred, but I started 10 years later, 1966, but its still a considerable time I think, spending my career mainly on the improvement of vaccines and also on the application of vaccines - and in that sense I was on many missions for the European Union and for the FAO and to outbreak situations to see what factors were involved, how the situation could be brought under control, and so I got my main field experience there, because in the Netherlands we didn't have much foot and mouth disease during my career.
When I started there was foot and mouth disease in swine, especially, but it was the end of the outbreak period and then I was seeing from a distance, as a young scientist the situation in the UK, when in 67 you had your terrible outbreaks here lasting more than one and a half year, I think, and I wondered then why the hell don't they use vaccination and I didn't really understand it , and say looking backwards I think I understood and also from the report that was brought out that were something to happen again there, vaccination would be the answer certainly when they would be confronted this rising curves of outbreaks. When the control of an outbreak - you must realise of course - you all know that the virus is very contagious, it can be brought from an animal to other animals by different means, but is essential is that it is realised that he virus has no wings it has no legs, and it also cannot swim so the means that it is transferred it is brought from one animal to another animal is by carriers, and the main carriers are humans, but also carriers are vehicles and materials.
Different stories how it occurred in our laboratory for instance that was a carton - just a box containing cakes because of a birthday. It was presented in the laboratory and the driver was bringing the box from the laboratory to our stables where we did the vaccine trials. And we had two types of stables for the injection of the vaccines. Where the animals were injected - it was clean and it was completely separated from our laboratory and out testing stables. Anyhow this carton brought over the disease and we had an outbreak in our clean stables where we started to vaccinate the animals That was a case - other cases were in Italy where there were lorries that were used and not well disinfected - same materials used on farms and it all brought the virus from one farm to another.
The aerosols can be the cause but its dependent on the species - whether its cattle or pigs or sheep that have the disease in general sheep and goat don't excrete much virus so they are certainly not in the sense of aerosol production a great danger its mainly pigs not so much for this strain but for say the former strain the 01bfs the British field strain that was causing the problems in the 67 outbreak that was one that really attacked the pigs and the pigs were producing a lot of virus. In this outbreak sometimes it is severe cases sometimes not so severe and many miles and I sometimes say well my former days in Europe say when the disease was taking its course, farmers would have been quite happy with this strain because it was not so agressive but now its a very mean strain because the virus goes underground very often. You don't see the blisters and the virus remains undetected and its creeping its way. I tend to call this type of virus a guerrilla virus because its going underground and its popping up at certain spots and there it is again you have your problems.
The first answer of course is slaughter of the outbreak farm, its so contagious you can't wait until the whole farm got the disease, with all the risk of the spread, and so that's something you can't prevent - when you want to control the disease you have to slaughter the farm where the disease has occurred.
It is then tended to spread, you have to find your contacts, but as it is done now I think, it is not done in an intelligent way by just drawing a circle because the virus also knows natural barriers. Where you have a canal or river where wildlife that might spread the virus has to cross, it means that if they cross a canal or river at all they will be washed, and it is very unlikely that the virus will appear at the other side. The same counts for highways that are difficult to cross, and also railways that often have, In Holland, little canals at both sides, but anyhow these are natural barriers that you can take into account when you determine the farms that have to be culled or not to be culled.
That's one element that I don't like the way the ministries in both the UK and in Holland were applying the ring culling. There are certainly advantages in the culling, its quick, at least when you don't have a high density of animals - and speed is a very important element - and therefore new developments like Fred Brown just demonstrated are very important and should be applied where possible and therefore it is not well to understand why this machine was not tested so far, when there was good success and good reliability not applied in the fields. There are also other tests possible - there are there, and they are not applied.
There are a number of disadvantages of the ring culling. First of all it means there are a large number of contractors involved, and they are people not trained in hygiene, and in containment of disease, a large number of people are entering the farm, are doing their jobs there, they have top disinfect of course, their equipment, but when you are handling and lifting animals with disease then you can be very sure that the whole place will be contaminated with the virus, it will be all over the place, and its not only outside but also inside. Virus is like a fine dust and we all know when you have a fine sand dust, the dust really enters all corners and places. That's one of the big disadvantages of the ring slaughter, that those equipments have to go on the roads again. (13.08) The same counts for the people who are carrying out their jobs, they are from rural areas, from places often living next door to farmers, and they go back to their houses and have contacts, and many of them I am convinced, are leaving the premises while contaminated.
Thats one of the main disadvantage - it keeps the disease going. And last, but not least, I think this large scale ring culling is affecting the rural society - it is so much interfering with lives of the farmers, of people, - well I have experienced it in Holland that for many of the farmers where the animals were culled, life will never be the same after that. It is something that has to be weighed in the decision making very heavily and should be taken into account, far more than it is done now. And that counts for both Holland and the UK.
What are the alternatives - the alternative is vaccination - we have already been told that vaccines did their jobs in the past, and have now improved considerably, over the last 15 years to 20 years, and they are doing what they are predicted to do. There is a disadvantage, the first one is that the clinical disease of where you have already the virus on the farm, but not yet detected, thats in the farm itself, it will be spread, and it will with the injection needle it may be brought into a lot of other animals and the disease may be blown up, so you may have after the vaccination some farms that may get quite serious disease, say one or two days after the vaccination has been carried out. Another disadvantage is that it lasts about 3 to 7 days before all disease is gone, before the vaccine is really effective. But you certainly see after 2 days a diminishing incidence of outbreaks and in general you will see the last case in 5 days, that was also the case in Holland, and you may expect all the disease to be in the vaccinated area, and all the disease is gone in 7 days. Then you have to keep quiet, for some times, than after say 2 to 3 weeks, your life takes its course. The other advantage of vaccination is that its a limited number of well-trained people are involved, say 2 to 4 vets can do the job, and disease containment can be carried out with the required level.
It can be carried out quickly, from outside, when you have your area estimated for vaccination, where we expect that there is still disease, then you go from the outside to the inside, towards the outbreak farms. It's cheap, of course, not comparable with the cost of animals, and another advantage is that in the area you can restock the farms quite quickly, with vaccinated animals.
And restocking in an uninfected area situation, means a risk, and that's a risk I think that for people that once had a culling then when they bought their new cattle, and then if after a week they have a new outbreak, then its a terrible experience, I would say it is almost unbearable. So I think that restocking with vaccinated cattle or vaccinated sheep is a great thing as well. In the whole logistics of the control of the disease. The other big advantage is that there is a minimum of traumatic experience of a cull - its only the outbreak farms where you still have to cull the animals.
Well, as I said, after 2 to 3 weeks, life can take its course, these animals are Ithink overlooked when the European Union was developing tools for trade, and its something to fight for, that these things are reconsidered, and that also the countries that are free of the disease, that they reconsider and they realise that the disease could also happen in their countries, and therefor I think that it is very important on the international level - UK together with other countries, certainly Holland is very much in favour if having the possibilities to use vaccination, that they fight for changing the rules. The strange thing is that the European Union always ran the risk when foot and mouth disease was at its borders, then the Eurpopean Commission is to put up its hands and say we have to vaccinate but how much vaccine do you want, you can have it tomorrow. And that was the case when there was an outbreak in Bulgaria in 1994, and it was the case earlier in North Africa, and they sent over several million doses of vaccine there.
In Albania and Macedonia in 1969 and 1996, and there in all those cases vaccination was a great success, and finished the disease. The same was the story in South Africa, last year, when I was myself involved there as a consultant, and in the end, they started with a cull, and that seemed quite successful, but the disease reappeared all the time, it was after three weeks of silence they had a new case or 2 cases, and then they had another cull at the outbreak farms and at a few suspicious contact farms, and that was starting in the beginning of September, and you end up in October when the virus was entering an area of common farming.
A third world situation, there were 5000 sheep and cattle involved in total and about a thousand farmers, so you can realise the situation and it was common farming grounds. And I said the only solution is to start vaccination now, but I didn't want to press too much, I was an outsider, and they said yes, our status, and I said yes your status is of course an important factor. So they decided to continue slaughter, but then I was thinking it over and I put all my arguments on paper, and I presented that and they thought it over again, and they realised that the only way to go was vaccination.
They did a ring vaccination, and that was the end of foot and mouth disease in South Africa. And as I said, the Netherlands had worked as well, there were in the are about 23 outbreaks, and it was in a kind of triangle, 25 kilometres, quite a large area. They started with the cull, first one kilometre, then 2 kilometres, but also the 2 kilometres didn't work and there were rising figures exactly as the figures here in the UK. It became pretty flat, but then gradually increasing. They decided to vaccinate all the area - out of 270,000 there were 40 -50,000 animals left, they were all vaccinated, and that was the end of foot and mouth disease in the Netherlands.
So it can be done, and I think it should be done. People say the arguments that I have heard both from the European Commission, Mr Byrne (David Byrne) for instance, he said well - vaccination is no solution because it keeps the virus amongst us. And say, following this, our minister of agriculture, said the same, and our prime minister also said the same. And they didn't realise that although a vaccinated animal confronted with heavy disease might become a carrier, it is not excreting virus as the natural carrier, that after the disease an animal can become a carrier, or most animals will become a carrier when they are not vaccinated, but when you start the vaccination it infects very much the juices of excretion of that virus and those animals have never been the cause of new outbreaks.
That is something that the international and scientific veterinary community did not realise and they always have considered a carrier a carrier. And they didn't discriminate between say the natural carrier that had the disease and a vaccinated carrier. and I think that this is something that should be reconsidered - both Paul Sutmoller and myself work on this awareness and we tried the international, the OIE. the organisation that makes basic rules for trade to realise that his is the case, and on that basis that they reconsider the status of countries when they apply a limited vaccination for a particular area or apply say, just a ring vaccination. And that is something that we put in our recommendations and we certainly will bring to the attention of the ministry, of DEFRA.
The carrier thing should not be overestimated it has never caused new disease, but what is far more dangerous, and that is when you apply just a culling, is that you leave in the surroundings natural carriers and then in say October, when the cows are brought back to the stables, you have the concentration of the animals. A natural carrier has been proven in the past that sometimes can start new outbreaks. That is a very critical period, I think.
Well - I think that I leave it to this, the recommendations I think also - the one here started on the swill feeding farm, in South Africa it started on a swill feeding farm, and I think that an FMD free status of country is not compatible with the presence of farms where they are doing the swill feeding. Its only acceptable I think to use the swill if its treated with high temperature in a well organised plant, then it can of course be used. But not just leaving it on farmers to feed their animals in that way.
I had some more points, but I think I leave it to this.
Dr Paul Sutmoller's talk [30 mins]
I'm Paul Sutmoller, I've worked for 30 or 40 years on the control and irradication and prevention in Latin America, in South America, in the Caribbean and in Central America. I worked first as a field officer - they call them now epidemiologist - at that time we were more simple - just field officers who worked in the field, we tries to understand what the disease was doing, then I worked for a number of years, about 8 years, at the Plum Island Animal Disease Centre in New York where I worked on [exhorting?] diseases but especially foot and mouth disease, and after that i went back to be the chief of laboratories of the Pan-American foot and mouth research centre in Rio de Janiero having the responsibility for the coordination of all the foot and mouth disease work in South America.
Now the purpose of my talk tonight will be to take the mystery out of vaccines - I think there are so many things floating around and misunderstanding and misinformation floating around - the ideas of vaccine and vaccination - it is worthwhile just to summarise the development of the vaccine through a period of say about 1965 to 1992. In 1985 about 20 years that I followed the whole process - that vaccines that we have available right now are called oral vaccines - the virus solution is emulsified with a mineral oil and that is basically the vaccine. Firstly lets point out that the vaccine is a killed vaccine it is not a living organism its completely killed it does not produce disease. I think lots of people ask me well - if you vaccinate is that not a disease state - confuse the live vaccines virus like for human diseases and animal disease is that inactive vaccines the killed vaccines. The vaccine that we have is a killed vaccine in itself it does not produce disease
They started the research in 1965 in the United States, and what we at the centre in Rio did a lot of development work and that consisted in doing a lot of experiments on the laboratory scale later applying that vaccine in the field to pilot projects of a few thousand cattle and later when we had the results of those, we scaled those up to a few million cattle. But irs not a vaccine that is just never used its a vaccine that has been extensively studied.
We have these beautiful overlays and I'm going to show you that on the screen - it will be a little bit easier for you to follow. The firs thing we found that this oral vaccine produced very good protection better than the vaccines that were used before, and they protected the animals for a much longer time even when they had only one vaccination.
The vaccination produce an extremely good protection so that was the first result that we had under the laboratory conditions we then started on a few studies in areas where we could vaccinate 5000 to 10000 cattle and we worked out the best vaccination scheme. We found that we could vaccinate animals once a year as long as you revaccinate the younger animals - say the animals up to 2 years old twice a year, so that was already a good improvement over the old vaccines, in the first place they weren't so good and in the second place you had to vaccinate the animals in South America two times a year to get good immunity and this was a real improvement
We also worked with pigs we found that these vaccines gave an excellent protection of pigs, the old vaccines did not do that. Also young pigs were very well protected we could vaccinate young piglets and as soon as the pig is at the end of his life, for the fattening pigs is about 6 months, they proved to be protected for their lifetime with one injection. We also found that we could revaccinate the pigs - the breeding sows. We did not see at first any reaction to the vaccination. There were rumors going around that sows would abort if you vaccinated those sows I have vaccinated myself several thousand sows at all stages of pregnancy and I have not seen any abortions occur. Even we produce the vaccine in the face of outbreaks. If you have a pig farm and you have several pig houses on the farm its not that every pig in the farm say farm of 1000 or 2000 or 5000 pigs, not every pig on that farm will be diseasing its going to be a box. here and a box there, its going to be spread over the farm, and also over several farmhouses. Farm barns are not infected. We have very successfuly vaccinated a whole lot and we saw that in three days they was no further expansion of the disease in that farm. So I think in pigs you dont have to vaccinate systematically, its something that you can do a lot of good just vaccinating even in a fatal outbreak. This shows you just how well the vaccine would work.
Of course you are extremely interested in how the vaccine works in sheep, it works very well in sheep, actually it works much better in sheep than it does in cattle, if the cattle dose is 5ml, with one millionth of the vaccine you get excellent protection in sheep so there is no problem with sheep. We have looked at local reactions to the vaccine, we did not find anything that would concern the consumer, after you eat the meat from the vaccinated sheep.
Actually there is another rumour that goes around that you cannot eat meat from vaccinated animals with this vaccine, well you have been eating that meat for about 30 years now because you have been eating meat from Argentina and Uraguay and Brazil, and they have had these vaccinations, so I don't know where the rumour comes from that you cannot consume that meat. So we didn't find anything wrong with the meat from the vaccinated sheep either.
Well we expanded those lab tests in those pilot areas to large scale production and large scale application, and I'm now talking about 1977, so you can see its not a very recent development, it very old. In 1977 we had 36,000 cattle in the south of Brazil in this project, and we were fortunate that there was a huge outbreak of type A in that state of Brazil at that time. There were about 25 outbreaks right adjacent to that pilot area that we had and they were vaccinated with commercial vaccine, and they came down with very severe disease, and none of the vaccinated animals in that oral vaccine project, those 36,000 animals, came down.
This impressed the farming community quite a bit, and they said we want to vaccinate a million animals in that state, and in the meantime the government of Brazil had equipped vaccine production facilities that could produce that vaccine. So we expanded that project to one million animals and again we were lucky that there was a very severe outbreak of type O, but not this type O, another type O, and again we had extreme success because the only animals that came down out of this tremendous amount of cattle, were cattle that had either escaped vaccination, or were under one year old, and there were only a few animals, out of the million animals there were only about 7 or 8 that came down, while in the rest of the country this type O virus was ravaging the cattle industry.
We did the same thing in Uruguay, where we vaccinated about 100,000 dairy cattle, our experience was only with beef cattle, so we wanted a project with dairy cattle. We vaccinated 100,000 cattle. In Argentina we used the vaccine on about 80,000 cattle, so its not small numbers, and the immunity that we got in the population, the immunity was excellent. Now up to that point, and we are talking about 1977 - 1978, the campaigns in South America were based on a commercial vaccine, of questionable quality, and the management of the vaccine was rather poor, and there was low vaccine coverage. For instance there was a coverage of the vaccination of about 50 or 60%, and that type of vaccination coverage and vaccine quality was not sufficient to change the behaviour of the virus in the field. It made the disease less severe, in that it caused less infection on the farms, but it did not eradicate the disease. The disease stayed there, and that is why people still say once you vaccinate you have to live with the disease, not realising that why that was so. This was the result of this poor vaccination quality and so this was the reason for most of the rumours still going around.
People don't realise that there has been a tremendous improvement in vaccines. Actually at that time why was the coverage so low, farmers did not believe that this was working, so what they did they needed a certificate to move cattle and that was based on whether they had vaccinated or not, so they bought a vaccine, and they dumped the vaccine in the sink, and they said - well here is my invoice that I have bought the vaccine. So they had 5000 cattle and they only vaccinated 1000 cattle and that was sufficient to show that they had bought the vaccine. And the veterinary service got a bit suspicious and they said - well you have to bring the empty bottle to show us that you have really vaccinated so they came and they had bottles but no manure in the bottles, so the veterinary service said well no manure in the bottle you didn't vaccinate and so then the farmers of course said - no there is manure in the bottles. So if you do things that the farmers don't believe in they cheat you - the whole thing has to be based on trust that the farmers trust what you are doing and otherwise you can't get anywhere with your campaign.
I listed a few of the things that why FMD stayed in South America so long - the farmers in South American countries did not receive the benefit of the vaccination - they kept on getting foot and mouth disease they felt this as an obligation - just like you pay taxes - you have to vaccinate and the less taxes you pay the better so the less vaccine that you use the better. The vaccine to use ..to the better vaccines because they lost market, instead of vaccinating three times a year you had only to vaccinate once a year, and that was not so good for the vaccine producers, so they were very reluctant about using this new oral vaccine, and they spread rumours that the oral vaccines would interfere with the consumers appetite.
So this is how all these rumours .. another thing was those vaccination campaigns were .. they were directed from the top to the bottom and there was no participation of the cattle industry, the farmers, they were told what to do they were not asked is this the best way to do it. I think the only real change in attitude came when the livestock producers said hey this is not working and it has to work because Europe has now decided that they stop vaccination so they will tighten the noose and we will lose markets so we will have to do something if the government can't do it we are going to do it ourselves. we are going to take the responsibility for the campaigns. They did that - they organised local commissions the farmers - the equivalent of your farmers union took the thing under hand and says we will execute this campaign. and they organised - they advised the government to organise the vaccine control for instance and they stated together with us in the requirements for these vaccines, I can't show you unfortunately, but in two years time the disease dramatically went down to the point that in 1995 there was no foot and mouth disease any more and I have a summary slide here - we are not talking about small figures. In that time in two years time we had around 150 million cattle free of foot and mouth disease over more than a million farms in about five million square kilometres so we are not talking about small figures this vaccine has been proven to work. and people can say what they want about this vaccine but we have not seen undesirable side effects we have seen excellent population immunity we have no reason to believe that with vaccination you cannot eradicate the disease.
I think the first, and people sometimes forget history, the first time that with vaccination FMD was eradicated, was in Mexico. They had an outbreak in Mexico in 1948 that lasted quite a few years I think until 1952 or something and they started again with stamping out. Well - it didn't work - they had a long tale, and Mexican farmers are not so easy to convince that you have to kill the cattle, so they killed - four Mexican veterinarians they killed the United States veterinarians and from that moment on they decided to build a vaccine facility and they started vaccinating of course if they had outbreaks and they had an affected farm they killed but they did not kill every thing and every contact, no they killed only the affected animals and lo and behold in a year the number of infected farms went down and in two years they were free of foot and mouth disease.
So don't tell me that the Americans are against vaccination they know damn well that with vaccination you can get results and in February last year before you get the outbreak here Canada, the United States and Mexico did a simulation and they said - well certain farms in Texas and California will in fact we may have a terrorist attack or something like that, but these farms are becoming infected, what would happen and they traced forwards and backwards and they discovered that this disease would be all over by California and they would have to go to vaccinate California. They said of course we cannot kill all the cattle in California, people would not allow it and in The United States they would not stand for that so we will have to vaccinate and they are much more pragmatic than you think are they already have decided that they needed more vaccine because they now realise that they have to vaccinate in areas like the state of California.
So don't say all the time like they say here well the United States wouldn't allow us, sure if you come and say this is the way we are going to combat the disease, these are the rules that we are going to take, the government could go to Brussels and say these are the things we want to apply what we are going to do and what can you declare us free on the basis of these results.
These were the way in Brazil we go through these motions, they had to show that they vaccinated and they also to show not only that it didn't have any outbreaks any more but they were required by the OIE to shoe that they had done sufficient to show they were indeed free of the virus and they used exactly the tests that here are being debated tonight the test to show that you don't have antibodies against the living virus, so here again it is a mystery differentiating between vaccinated and infected animals.
In the so called third world countries this has been done so why should a first world country be not doing this, also they say well we cannot vaccinate such large populations so we have no vaccine - not true - the vaccine is there, there is a European vaccine bank why should you have a bank a European vaccine bank if you are not going to use it as the need arises you have to consider that. You should not be dogmatic and in your considerations you should be flexible. That is the only way you can combat this disease. There has been a lot of talk about carriers because in all this you get the so called carrier the animal with persistant infection that seem to cause all the problems, well I feel a little bit responsible becasue I am the father of the lady.
I worked on the carriers for a time and I've never been able to show that carrier cattle can transmit the virus to animals that are in very close contact or for a very long time with them, so I don't know where the story come from that the carriers are such a big danger. Like Simon said, the danger of carriers is much more like the situation that you have here, where .. infection happens where it is not detected and the number of carriers..in the vaccinated population. Vaccine does not produce carriers, if vaccinated animals are exposed to a large amount of virus yes they can become carriers but in a good vaccinated population you don't have disease so you don't produce carriers and it is just ridiculous that all situation and everything hinges on the fear that carriers among vaccinated population that would occur. In my experience in South America we had no indication whatsoever that among vaccinated populations there has ever been indications that those carriers exist, neither are there any indications of course that disease was produced by vaccinated carriers.
I think I leave it like this I have a number of questions that are always here from my friends and maybe we can tell you some of the answers I think my friends are quite intelligent and still they come to these questions and they say : Is meat from vaccinated animals dangerous something they ask me all the time and then they say: Is milk from vaccinated cows dangerous, no - well - I won't give the answers because you will ask the same questions again. I consider you intelligent people too, so you probably have even more of these questions so I have some examples here: Does milk have to be treated specially from vaccinated animals. Does vaccination mean living with disease - well we covered that point already with Simon. Does vaccination cause carriers. Do carriers cause FMD. Can you vaccinate sheep. Does the vaccine have side effects - the sows - do they cause abortion. A very interesting question - How is it possible that in Uraguay about the size of the UK there is ten million cattle and 40 million sheep raising on the same grounds and mixed together how is it possible that Uraguay was able to irradicate the disease in less than two years by vaccination only of the cattle population - now this is an interesting question and it looks like sheep are the dead end of the virus because they never vaccinated the sheep, there must have been FMD in the sheep, still they were able to irradicate the disease by just vaccinating the 10 million cattle and not the 40 million sheep. So we may have to delay that question.
Well there are vaccinated cattle or sheep that are also diseased, that is something that my friends come up with, if you vaccinate why do you risk your fmd free status and here I would like to say a few words I think right now if you say Britain was until February a disease free country that didn't vaccinate, now if I think in terms of risk, I think that Britain has shown high risk if you export the foot and mouth disease to several countries in the European continent, so a free country without vaccination is not a risk free situation, and maybe if you calculate what is a foot and mouth disease free country with vaccination, you come out that the risk of that is smaller than the risk of so called free country it is something that we really don't have to consider, and this is something that is a completely new concept. I said well if you don't vaccinate and you don't have the disease, that's the highest health status that you can get, but it deos not guarantee that your products of the animals that you export, you live with risk always have risk, and you have to consider the risk its very important to do a risk analysis and not dogma you really only taking the so-called highest status, and in fact the question from Holland was why do you vaccinate animals and then you kill all these healthy animals that you vaccinated And this all created a tremendous amount of work for veryone of course and even there are some quite violent situations, so this question by friends, I'm sure you have other questions, and we will be discussing that later.
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