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Foot & Mouth Open Letter Written by Compassion in World Farming on September 13th 2007

Previous correspondence:

Initial letter to Hilary Benn (63kb PDF) - 5th August 2007.

Hilary Benn's reply (63kb PDF) - 15th August 2007.

13th September 2007

Rt Hon Hilary Benn MP
Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Nobel House
17 Smith Square

Dear Secretary of State

Foot-and-Mouth Disease: vaccination

Compassion in World Farming (CIWF) is anxious, as I am sure are you, to avoid a mass cull of animals if it emerges that foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) has spread beyond the one farm in Surrey.

During the August outbreak Defra was to a degree sympathetic to the use of emergency ring vaccination in order to prevent the spread of the disease but did not in fact introduce such a vaccination programme.

We are concerned that the new outbreak could have a wider spread than that in August. Accordingly, we urge Defra to introduce without delay a programme of emergency ring vaccination. This will very substantially reduce the risk of government resorting, should the outbreak be more widespread than in August, to mass contiguous culling. Such contiguous culling is not supported by science research as an effective and appropriate approach and is ethically unacceptable to much of the public.

CIWF believes that ring vaccination would protect animals in the neighbourhood of an outbreak, greatly reduce the amount of virus excreted by the animals and so prevent or substantially reduce disease spread.

The use of vaccination was reviewed by the Royal Society in 2002 and by the EU Scientific Committee on Animal Health and Animal Welfare (SCAHAW) in 2003. Both came out in favour of an increased role for vaccination in both routine and emergency disease control.

The SCAHAW report recommended that "emergency vaccination using marker vaccines and their accompanying diagnostic tests could be a suitable tool to rapidly interrupt the chain of infection, thereby allowing an early stamping-out of the disease outbreak and avoiding collateral mass culling".

The Royal Society report concluded that "emergency vaccination should be seen as a major tool of first resort, along with culling of infected premises and known dangerous contacts, for controlling FMD outbreaks".

In conclusion, CIWF urges Defra to commence emergency vaccination without delay. Such vaccination should be vaccination-to-live; this is the approach recommended by the Royal Society.

Yours sincerely

Philip Lymbery
Chief Executive



























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