THE NATIONAL FOOT & MOUTH GROUP

An affiliation of organisations affected by 2001 UK epidemic

Co-ordinating Office: 3 The Common, Siddington, Cirencester, Glos GL7 6EY

Tel: 01285 644319 / 01285 656812

 

28 October 2002

For the attention of Mrs Margaret Beckett MP

Minister for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs

Dear Minister

ANIMAL HEALTH BILL – COMMONS DEBATE 6 NOVEMBER & FMD

Since the introduction of the Animal Health Bill there have been substantive developments, detailed below. With regard to these we would be very grateful if the Bill could be amended to encompass these changes:

1 In May 2002 the OIE (Office International des Epizooties – the international body with responsibility for conferring disease free status) made a crucial change to the Animal Health Code for FMD. Appendix 1

The new ruling made provision for return to disease free status post vaccination for FMD to be reduced from 12 months to 6 months – when animals were vaccinated with NSP free vaccines and then subject to the appropriate serological testing.

2 This change was possible because tests to differentiate between vaccinated animals and those which had responded to infection had been developed, validated for use in several countries, and were now available. These had been presented in scientific papers to the OIE in November 2001.

Appendix 2

After due consideration the OIE, the international regulatory body for animal diseases, agreed that it was now possible to satisfactorily differentiate between FMD infected and FMD vaccinated stock.

Furthermore, that a serological survey based on the detection of antibodies to non-structural proteins of FMDV could be used to demonstrate the absence of infection in the remaining vaccinated population. App1 - Article 2.1.1.7 - 1©

 

3 As a result of the development of these vaccines and tests and their endorsement by the OIE, the Royal Societies of both London and Edinburgh were able to recommend emergency vaccination as the prime control strategy in the event of a future outbreak of FMD.

At Paras 28 and 29 of the Royal Society London report – the RS makes clear these changes have taken place and states that by the end of 2003 DEFRA should have validated and put in place the requisite provisions to enable the ‘early deployment’ of emergency vaccination for FMD. As specified in the Recommendations at the end of Chapters 8 and 9 of the Royal Society London report.

4 In addition, the EU Temporary Committee Draft Report (Sept 2002) has also advocated emergency vaccination as ‘a tool of first resort’ and presumably the imminent EU FMD Directive due to be published very shortly will also endorse emergency vaccination as the primary means of FMD control.

Both the EU Report and the EU Directive will no doubt recognise the advances and validation of NSP free vaccines and the differential tests and make provision to deal with FMD in line with the new OIE ruling.

It would be extremely regrettable if UK law was not in conformity with the emerging EU Directive – and for the UK to be disadvantaged in the event of any future outbreak.

 

5 Finally, as part of our submissions to the Royal Society, Lessons Learned and the EU Inquiries, we developed a Programme for the Use of Emergency Vaccination in the event of a future outbreak of FMD.

This was prepared in close collaboration with Dr Keith Sumption who in September was appointed to the UN FAO in Rome with responsibility for the control of exotic diseases including FMD. The programme was also fully endorsed by Dr Paul Sutmoller, a leading FMD scientist – who also presented evidence to both Royal Society and EU Inquiries – as did Dr Sumption.

The programme draws on the use of NSP free vaccines, the differential tests as endorsed by the OIE and addresses the issues of elimination of carrier animals, the use of vaccinated milk and meat, and the return to Disease Free Status post vaccination. Appendices 3 & 4

It provides a practical, implementable programme for the control of a future outbreak of FMD – and we were personally thanked by Sir Brian Follett of the RS Inquiry for its submission, and also by the Royal Society of Edinburgh.

We would be extremely grateful for your consideration of the document and DEFRA may like to consider its provisions in drawing up its contingency plans and moving to an early resolution of how to implement emergency vaccination in the event of a future outbreak.

6 The Royal Society report was published on 16 July 2002, but as yet we are still awaiting the Government’s formal response. We consider therefore that the determination of the Animal Health Bill in its present form is premature.

If the determination of the Bill cannot be held in abeyance to incorporate the recommendations of the Royal Society Inquiry we submit that it should at least be amended to encompass the changes and developments agreed at international level since the Bill was first introduced.

We hope the enclosures are of use and if we can be of any further assistance please

do not hesitate to contact us.

Yours sincerely

Janet Bayley

NFMG Co-ordinator