THE UK could not effectively tackle foot-and-mouth disease using emergency vaccination if another outbreak were to occur in the immediate future.

That is the view of the Royal Society which published a report on Tues (Dec 21) reviewing the work undertaken by DEFRA to ensure the UK is better prepared for a future outbreak.

The report recognises that the government has already done significant work, but it also identifies problems with the use of emergency vaccination that urgently need to be resolved.

“There is still no validation of the tests used to distinguish animals that have been infected from those that have not been infected but which have been vaccinated,” said Lord May, president of the Royal Society.

There is also still uncertainty over how widely to vaccinate to ensure an outbreak is contained due to the lag between vaccination and immunity of livestock.

The decision process by which pre-emptive action, either emergency vaccination or slaughter, is deployed is also unclear concludes the report.