19 July 2002

RSplumps for vaccination & emergency cull for F&M

By Isabel Davies

and Shelley Wright

VACCINATION, allied to an emergency slaughter policy, should form the primary offensive against future outbreaks of foot-and-mouth disease, according to two Royal Society reports.

The remit of the Royal Society for Great Britain and the Royal Society of Edinburgh – both made up of vets, government officials and scientists – was to look at combating future outbreaks.

The reports concluded that emergency vaccination should be used in the event of another F&M outbreak partly because tests now exist that can distinguish vaccinated animals from vaccinated-infected animals.

And the Office Internationale Epizootics, an international animal health body, has also agreed that countries using vaccination can apply for full trade status after six months rather than after 12 months which was the case.

"This powerfully supports the case for emergency protective vaccination without subsequent slaughter, except for infected animals," the Edinburgh report said.

Chaired by Ian Cunningham, former head of the Moredun Research Institute, it stated: "Future contingency plans should incorporate emergency barrier or ring vaccination as an adjunct to slaughter of clinical cases, as this would lead to a considerable reduction in the number of animals slaughtered."

Brian Follett, who chaired the GB Royal Society inquiry said: "If an outbreak does occur, it must not be allowed to develop into an epidemic, as has happened a number of times in the last century."

But the GB report said the nation should avoid routine vaccination to maintain its "disease-free status".

In addition to vaccination, Sir Brian suggested that disease control contingency plans should be debated in parliament and that the Prime Minister should establish procedures to review plans every three years.

These plans should be subjected to an annual rehearsal, he added.

"Meanwhile, the overall objective of the national policy must be to minimise the risk of a disease entering the country and reaching the farm," said Sir Brian. He called for better control of illegal imports, and improved disease surveillance and for a strengthening of the State Veterinary Service with greater use made of computers and modeling for planning and disease control.

Other recommendations by the Edinburgh report include:

&#8226 Establishing a laboratory in Scotland capable of diagnosing F&M.

&#8226 Developing improved tests, both in laboratories and on-farm.

lCreating a post of Chief Veterinary Officer (Scotland) with direct responsibility for all veterinary matters, including eradication of F&M.

&#8226 Introducing a complete ban on animal movements as soon as a case of F&M is confirmed.

&#8226 Creating a "Territorial Veterinary Army" which can respond immediately in the event of any emergency.

&#8226 Using funeral pyres as a last resort for carcass disposal. Rendering and burial should be the preferred options.

The Lessons Learned report into the 2001 foot-and-mouth disease outbreak, headed by Iain Anderson, will now be published on Monday (July 22). The inquiry team, which held evidence sessions across the UK, originally planned to publish the report on Thursday (July 16).

&#8226 For reaction and more details see p12. &#42