21 February 1997

NFU concerned about blue ear vaccine

By Tony McDougal

PIG industry leaders met MAFF vets this week to discuss a severe outbreak of blue ear disease in Denmark caused by the use of a new vaccine produced in the US.

The vaccine – Ingelvac PPRS MLV – is not licensed for use in the UK. But there is no legislation to stop UK farmers buying the product in Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands, where it is widely used.

The NFU/MAFF meeting stems from a decision taken last week by the Danish Federationof Pig Producers and Slaughter-houses (Danske Slagterier) to take legal action against the German distributors of the vaccine, Bohringer Imgelheim. The vaccine was manufactured in the US and has been approved in Canada, South Korea and some European countries.

Borge Jorgensen, Danske Slagterier consultant, said the Danish government had introduced a vaccination programme last February to stem the blue ear outbreak, which had already affected up to a third of the national herd.

Although the vaccination programme helped eliminate the disease among finishing herds, its results in sow herds were poor.

Rather than providing pigs with an enhanced immune system to the virus, the live vaccine caused the development of the disease within herds that had entered the vaccination programme. Breeders outside the vaccine programme suffered herd breakdowns when vaccinated pigs were brought into the herd.