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Re: DEFRA's cost benefit analysis on FMD vaccination is questionable.

In addition to the posting of Paul Sutmoller, I want to emphasize the important difference between the results of computer simulation CBA models and the epidemiological behavior of FMD when potent vaccines are applied with speed and precision, in addition to the immobilization of livestock and temporary suspension of livestock trade. According to the computational models, the effect of vaccines is rather mediocre while in reality the disease, as well as the infection, has been effectively eliminated during the latest epidemic FMD episodes in the countries in South America by the strategic application of oil-adjuvanted vaccines. Also, the 2001 FMD outbreak in the Netherlands was aborted by the vaccination of the livestock in a relatively small area.

Even though massive systematic vaccination is not considered a viable option for the EU, I like to call attention to the remarkably favorable results in South America. The disastrous outbreaks in the Southern Cone of South America (Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay) during 2001 were a result of the dismantling of the vaccination campaigns during 1994 and 2000 and the movement of large numbers of fully susceptible young cattle, followed by the dissemination of the virus from endemic areas where the virus was circulating.

Since 2001 the countries of the Southern Cone have re-instated the systematic vaccination of the cattle population with oil-adjuvanted FMD vaccines. Consequently, there have been several years without FMD or virus circulation in one of the biggest livestock regions of the world with some 250 million head of cattle, more than 30 million sheep and large numbers of goats and pigs. In the Southern Cone, the countries Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay and the Southern zone of Brazil have recovered the status of FMD free where vaccination (only in cattle) is practiced. Presently circulation of FMD virus only continues in Ecuador and Venezuela, due to partial and non-systematic vaccination campaigns.

In my opinion it has clearly been demonstrated that presently available potent an innocuous vaccines, in combination with a still stand of animal movements and other sanitary measures, can effectively eradicate FMD in a short period. The CBA computer simulation is an important tool, but the results do not fit or reflex extensive field observations. The International Animal Health Code of the OIE continues to discriminate the application of FMD vaccines by requiring longer waiting periods after vaccination with regard to the use of stamping-out to regain the status of “Free of FMD”. If decision makers would be influenced too much by the results of the CBA, then the rational use of FMD vaccines to eliminate the infection would even be more jeopardized.

Raúl Casas O. Former Director of the Panamerican FMD Center (PANAFTOSA)