From Andrew King (Pirbright): to Alan Beat
Thanks for the call this morning. It prompted me to dig out what Tony Garland wrote concerning the Uruguay report. This was way back in May, and the following are Tony's words, not mine:
"There is no doubt that FMD can be controlled by vaccination and there are circumstances where it can be the preferred course of action, together with other zoosanitary measures.
There are significant differences between the UK and Uruguay situations.
- The livestock (and human) population densities are vastly different.
- The livestock industry is the major contributor to GDP in Uruguay and accounts for more than 65% of exports.
- Beef and sheep are mainly kept on an extensive system of management.
- The country borders on Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina, all of which have had FMD(officially declared or not declared) and all of which form part of the same ecosystem. Thus the country is continually at risk of the overland spread of disease.
- The authorities and the farmers in Uruguay are very used to vaccinating against FMD, including both the concept and the practice.
- The vaccination is mainly carried out by the farmers themselves in a highly organised and effective way.
Uruguay suspended its programme of routine prophylactic mass vaccination of cattle against FMD in 1994 and was accorded the OIE status of "FMD Free Without Vaccination" in 1996.
In October 2000 a type O outbreak started in pigs close to the Brazilian border. It was controlled by the Stamping-Out policy without vaccination. 6,924 cattle, 12,371 sheep and 257 pigs were slaughtered . The outbreak was contained and the country regained its OIE status in January 2001.
In April 2001 type A FMD spread into Uruguay from Argentina. The Stamping out policy was followed initially and 6908 cattle, 12,384 sheep and 1,114 pigs were slaughtered. The disease was then found to have spread throughout the country and there was strong farmer opposition to continuation of the Stamping-Out Policy. Mass prophylactic vaccination was reintroduced.
Cattle in Uruguay were all vaccinated in 2001, again in 2002 and will be vaccinated again in 2003. Further vaccination may be carried out subsequently, depending on the epidemiological situation prevailing in the southern cone of South America. Sheep were not vaccinated.
The Government paid for the first two rounds. There is debate about who will pay for subsequent rounds. In many South American Countries the farmer pays for vaccine and vaccination.
Serological surveillance is continuing, including both sheep and cattle. The evidence suggests that sheep have not played any significant role in the epidemic.
Uruguay have declared themselves "Free of FMD With Vaccination". Exports of matured, boned-out beef and heat-treated meat can (and apparently have)resumed to countries prepared to accept them. The EU Veterinary Committee recommended that such imports should resume from Uruguay to the EU as from 1st November 2001 (i.e 3 months after the last recorded clinical case).
As at 06. 05. 2002 the OIE have not recognised Uruguay as being "Free From FMD With Vaccination", although I believe that Uruguay applied for this designation in February 2002"
As I told you over the 'phone, it looks as if they are intending to vaccinate a final time in 2004. On past experience they can expect to regain 'disease-free status without vaccination' a couple of years later.
Reply from Alan:
Thanks for your message.
I take most of Tony's points but puzzle over his statement
"The livestock (and human) population densities are vastly different"
In fact the cattle population is almost the same in both countries. Agreed Uruguay has fewer sheep, but these played no real part in the epidemic.
Seems to me that Uruguay's problem is its neighbours, which make "FMD without vaccination" a very high-risk strategy! But I am glad we can all agree, at least, that vaccination worked well in their situation.
Another comment from Andrew:
Significantly, however, Uruguay's ambition is still to be vaccine free. They managed it for ten years, and they evidently still think it a cost-effective objective for the long-term, despite the undoubted risk posed by their neighbours.
Long-term the goal is to get rid of the disease from the whole of the continent and, with it, vaccination. In principle, it should be an attainable goal, despite recent disappointments in the zone.