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From the OIE's Question and Answer pdf file about foot and mouth disease.
Does an FMD vaccine exist and does it work?Inactivated virus vaccines (where the virus has been subjected to a chemical treatment so it cannot reproduce in vaccinated animals) are highly recommended. Live virus FMD vaccines are not acceptable due to the danger of reversion to virulence and resultant difficulty in differentiating infected from vaccinated animals. The vaccines are formulated for the specific virus strains present in the country and the animal species it is to be used in. Many FMD vaccines are designed to provide cover against several different virus strains likely to be encountered in a given field situation, but no vaccine protects against all the virus strains circulating in the world. The current trend in vaccination strategies is to use highly purified DIVA (Differentiating Infected from Vaccinated Animals) vaccines which allow easy identification of naturally infected animals from vaccinated animals. Vaccination against FMD is used in many countries or zones that are now recognised as free from foot and mouth disease with vaccination.
Does the OIE recommend the vaccination of animals for FMD?Vaccination remains an option as part of an effective control strategy for FMD and the decision to use vaccination is a national responsibility. Routine vaccination against FMD is used; in many countries or zones recognised as free from foot and mouth disease with vaccination, in countries where the disease is endemic and in countries where there is a risk from circulating virus in neighbouring countries or zones. In disease-free countries using the mechanisms of effective early detection and rapid response, the use of strict movement controls and culling of infected and contact animals when outbreaks occur must be preferred to vaccination.
How safe are FMD vaccines?In manufacturing FMD vaccines, virulent FMD virus must be used during the process. A key step in the process is the inactivation of the FMD virus. The commercial vaccine must be free from residual live virus. These vaccines must be controlled to ensure the safety of their use. Vaccines must also be field tested to demonstrate safety and efficacy under field conditions and to detect unexpected reactions. These tests are carried out before the vaccine is authorised for general use.
Why not implement routine vaccination to prevent the occurrence of FMD?There are several reasons for not considering the use of vaccination as a routine measure for the prevention or control of FMD:
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- the cost of vaccine and of administration
- the requirement for administering two injections per year for all susceptible species (cattle, sheep, goats, swine)
- the need to use vaccines adapted to the circulating virus strains or those anticipated
- the cost of a vaccine which protects against all strains of the virus in the world would be prohibitive
- the difficulties with exportation, although, the progress in vaccine design and diagnostic test diminishes this impact
- many countries with the capability of effective early detection and rapid response mechanisms choose to use strict movement controls and culling of infected and contact animals when outbreaks occur to eliminate the disease from the country.