Calls for livestock to be vaccinated in the wake of the outbreak of foot and mouth disease are too soon and should be tempered until more information is known about the source of the outbreak, according to independent vet consultant Tony Andrews.
“Vaccination should not be the first port of call until we are more certain how this foot and mouth outbreak developed. There are a number of possibilities as to how the outbreak occurred and what the source is.”
It is essential to know the strain of the disease which has infected this farm and until that is certain vaccination is not an option, said Dr Andrews.
“Once the strain is known it will be possible to develop vaccine to suit the outbreak. There are limited stocks of vaccines and these may not be of the same strain as this outbreak. This means it could be up to 14 days before sufficient quantities of vaccine are available.”
Looking ahead to what vaccination may mean for the industry Dr Andrews warned that a decision would need to be taken before animals were vaccinated as to what will happen to them post-vaccination.
“There are various options and one of these must be slaughter. Alternatively, if the tests are available they could be tested to ensure the only antibodies present are those generated by the vaccine.
“Equally, vaccination could have significant trading implications meaning vaccinated animals and possibly those within the restricted zone couldn’t be exported,” he added.
For the latest developments, news and industry advice keep and eye on our dedicated foot and mouth landing page.