Return to       About vaccination against foot and mouth

Telegraph Letter Oct 2 2007

Vaccination and FMD

Sir - Richard Lutwyche, Secretary of the British Saddleback Breeders' Club, when questioning foot and mouth vaccination (Letters, September 15), wrote: "The need to vaccinate every 16 weeks would be arduous and questionable in terms of animal welfare." His worry is understandable, but unfounded.

There is a proven, potent FMD vaccine available, and one vaccination will provide enough protection to halt an FMD epidemic. The protection against FMD starts four or five days after vaccination. The vaccine does not cause silent virus carriers, and vaccinated and infected animals can be differentiated by simple laboratory tests.

Products from vaccinated animals do not pose a danger for the spread of FMD nor do they endanger food safety.

The method of stamping out FMD without vaccination is all too familiar. Farmers in the FMD and surveillance zones must wait passively until no new cases appear. They can only hope that infected animals or contaminated materials have not been moved and the culling operation itself has not contributed to the spread of the virus.

The countdown on animal movements will start only when the outbreak appears to be fully under control. In 2001 that period started eight months after the beginning of the outbreak.

When vaccine is applied, the scenario is different. Areas in which to vaccinate must be determined by epidemiological boundaries. They need not be circles but must take account of natural boundaries such as rivers and highways.

Since the negative impacts of "vaccination to live" are minimal, the area can be large enough to contain any virus that may have escaped from infected farms. About a week after the vaccination of animals at risk, the outbreak should come to a halt and farmers can stop worrying.

After the last case, the countdown to regain the FMD-free status and the gradual lifting of animal movement restrictions can start.

Dr Paul Sutmoller, Chairman, Animal Health Committee, European Animal Health Association, Ede, The Netherlands


























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