Virus vaccine for Yorkshire pigs?

27 July 2001

Virus vaccine for Yorkshire pigs?

By Alistair Driver

THE government is considering emergency vaccination in North Yorkshire to prevent foot-and-mouth spreading to the big pig herds in the east of the country.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has been discussing firebreak vaccination with farm leaders, FWi has learned.

There have been over 120 outbreaks in North Yorkshire, including a number in Thirsk, which is close to a number of large pig herds.

This has raised huge concern that the virus could spread to devastate the bulk of the UK pig herd to the south and east of the area.

About one-third of British pigs are farmed in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire, and pigs exhale about 3000 times more foot-and-mouth virus than other livestock.

The government has already imposed further strict control measures in the area.

Vaccination would be controversial as previous moves to introduce this in Devon and Cumbria were shot down by farm leaders.

But National Pig Association producer group chairman Stewart Houston said the NPA would back such a move provided vaccinated animals were later culled.

He has discussed the possibility of creating a firebreak around heavily infected areas with DEFRA officials.

This would involve blanket vaccination of animals surrounding such areas to prevent spread.

Mr Houstons own North Yorkshire farm has been under restriction since an outbreak nearby in May. “My own pigs would probably be included,” he said.

But he believes current control measures in place should prevent the virus making further inroads into the pig herd.

“We support firebreak vaccination, but only as a last resort and on the condition that pigs were culled out afterwards,” he said.

A DEFRA spokeswoman refused to be drawn on whether specific plans for vaccination were being made in the Thirsk area. But, she said, “Vaccination remains an option. We are keeping it under review.”


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