Comments made by Mark Woolhouse of Edinburgh University in evidence to the parliamentary rural affairs committee.
Professor Woolhouse, who is an advisor to the government's chief scientific officer, said: "The best advice is that [vaccination] would not help. In controlling FMD, speed is of the essence. In any case, there are only 500,000 doses available, and it would take at least 4 days [for vaccinated animals] to acquire any sort of protection... 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."
This is a very strange statement.
Protection within four days means that the animals vaccinated are PROTECTED. The culling policy can hardly claim to have kept control of the epidemic. The final sentence is just extraordinary. See notes on vaccination and transmission on this website.
See Vaccination pages of this website which refute Professor Woolhouse's view.
Dr Paul Sutmoller, a man with years of field experience of the disease and held in the highest esteem in Europe and South America, addressed the Royal Society in January 2002
Some risks of stamping-out
* Heavy equipment used in these operations is difficult to decontaminate and might be a source of infection or contamination of roads when being driven to another job or back home.
* Disposal of cadavers presents a risk since virus in lesions, excrements and excretions is not rapidly destroyed after death and is disseminated by transport of cadavers, by pyres, at burial sites or digester plants.
* Transport systems for carcasses are not bio-secure, neither is the handling of the carcasses at the rendering plants.
* Large numbers of contractors not trained in disease containment become heavily contaminated.
* Intensive, active surveillance represents a risk.
Disadvantages of Ring- (circle) culling
* Most culled farms within the circle are not infected and, therefore, are culled without necessity.
* The operation itself has a high risk of disseminating FMD virus over short and long distances.
* A long drawn-out campaign is very disruptive for the rural society as a whole.
* The consequent application of circle culling (and of contiguous culls) is a threat to zoological collections and valuable (rare) breeding stock.
* Massive killing and destruction of livestock usually is not done with adequate respect for animal welfare.
* The small risk represented by hobby farms and small-holdings is not taken into account.
* Many culls represent a human tragedy and traumatic experience Ring- (circle) culling must be based on the evaluation of how virus spreads, and not be determined by mathematical circles.
The principal routes of virus spread to be considered are:
* animal movements from the farm, during the pre-clinical phase;
* wind, usually for a limited distance;
* vehicles (e.g. animal transport, machinery) contaminating roads that are used by the farmer's family and associates;
* contaminated vehicle from companies serving the farm;
* people (veterinarians, inseminators, visiting farmers, cleaning and disinfecting crews, etc.)
should be included in any contingency plan:
* to avoid all disadvantages of the massive killing and destruction of infected and healthy animals;
* to stop the disease from spreading;
* to prevent to the maximum extent possible the suffering of animals;
* to ascertain that a few week after vaccination life in the affected area can resume its normal course, with minimal socio-economic consequences
The logistics of a vaccination campaign are rather simple.
* It can be carried out on a large scale by a limited number of (trained) staff under full bio-safety conditions
* by farmers and trained farm hands as is common practice in South America (no risk of cross-contamination between farms because of people movements).
If FMD occurs in a previously FMD free country or zone without vaccination:
* If no vaccination is used to control an outbreak and stamping-out and serological surveillance are applied, the FMD free status can be regained and normal trade resumed 3 months after the last case;
* If stamping-out and emergency ("suppressive") vaccination are applied the waiting period is 3 months after the last vaccinated animal is slaughtered. A serological surveillance in the zone around the vaccination zone must demonstrate freedom from FMD.
If FMD occurs in a FMD free country or zone where vaccination is practised:
* If vaccination is used and stamping-out is applied, it takes 12 month after the last case to obtain the FMD free status;
* If vaccination is used, without stamping-out, it takes 24 month after the last case to obtain the FMD free status.
(These OIE rules changed in September 2003; Livestock can be declared disease free 6 months after the last vaccination if the absence of infection is demonstrated.)
These trade regulations are not based on risk assessments, but rather:
* on the notion that vaccination might perpetuate carriers in the population that those carriers may pose a risk for FMD free countries that do not practise vaccination.
* that there are no methods available for the detection of carriers in vaccinated populations.
Normal export should be resumed, when after any outbreak, the veterinary services would show the absence of FMD
* This should be independent of whether stamping-out, stamping-out plus ring vaccination or vaccination only was used to control the outbreak.
* There should not be a set time limit.
* The sooner the country or region shows the absence of viral activity the earlier normal trade can be resumed.
Meat and meat products from vaccinated cattle
* Negligible risk when slaughtered and processed under GMP and according to OIE regulations.
* Disease surveillance, control of the source cattle and slaughterhouse inspections are the main risk reduction measures.
* The risk reduction by maturation and deboning is probably over-emphasized.
* The fear of mechanical contamination of cattle carcasses with 'carrier virus' from the pharyngeal area during slaughter and processing is unfounded.
Milk and milk products from vaccinated cows
Risk assessments show that:
* Importation from countries with a high level of herd immunity, pose a close to zero or negligible risk.
* The importation of bovine embryos from vaccinated cows poses a negligible risk.
* The risk of the importation of semen from vaccinated bulls is negligible, with an adequate test protocol and when collected at collection centers, approved for semen export.
Vaccination and carriers
* Vaccination by itself cannot cause the carrier status (FMD vaccine is prepared with an inactivated antigen). A vaccinated animal must be exposed to active FMD virus to become a carrier.
* Vaccination suppresses or eliminates the amount of FMD virus (released or discharged) in the environment (low morbidity!) which makes it unlikely that carriers will be induced in vaccinated herds.
* Carriers among vaccinated cattle have not caused FMD outbreaks among susceptible non-vaccinated livestock populations like young cattle, sheep and pigs, nor have they hampered FMD eradication efforts.
Carriers or persistently infected animals
* Researchers have been unable to show that carriers cattle transmit FMD to susceptible contacts
* All experimental evidence of FMD virus transmission by carrier sheep is negative
* Pigs do not become carriers
* Vaccinated cattle or sheep exposed to FMD virus have a much smaller chance of becoming a carrier than susceptibles exposed to FMD virus
* "Vaccinated" carriers were no problem during the FMD eradication by vaccination in South America
Carriers or persistently infected animals
* The fear that vaccination causes FMD carriers and interferes with the eradication effort is completely hypothetical and scientifically unfounded
* There is much more chance of getting FMD carriers among cattle and sheep with clinical or subclinical FMD