28 March 2001
Green light for cattle vaccination
By Philip Clarke, Europe editor
EUROPEAN vets have given the UK permission to start vaccinating 180,000 dairy cattle in Devon and Cumbria in a bid to contain foot-and-mouth disease.
The go-ahead for vaccination was granted by the European Unions Standing Veterinary Committee meeting in Brussels on Wednesday (28 February).
Some 100,000 cattle in Cumbria and 80,000 cattle in Devon should be treated if agriculture minister Nick Brown now decides to implement a vaccine policy.
The aim is to target animals housed indoors so that they can be turned out, on pastures now occupied by sheep, in a months time, said a government source.
“Currently there are about 200,000 sheep in the contiguous zones,” the source added. “They are excreting the virus and cannot all be killed within the month.
“Vaccinating the cattle will free up resources to focus on the sheep, and will also prevent the cows from getting infected when they do go out.
“If the cows got infected there would be a much greater incidence of windborne spread,” said the source.
No decision has been taken about the future fate of these cattle – whether or not they should be slaughtered. This will be considered by the government.
Without slaughter, exports of milk or meat will be banned until 12 months after the last injection is administered, or after the last case of the disease is seen.
But with live exports already banned, the trade implications will be limited. There is also hope that Britains foot-and-mouth status would be regionalised.
Areas not vaccinating and free of the disease would then, at some point, be cleared by Brussels to resume exports, said the source.
Foot-and-mouth – confirmed outbreaks
Foot-and-mouth – FWi coverage