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Saturday, 29 June, 2002, 08:16 GMT 09:16 UK
Foot-and-mouth 'vaccine plan'
Cattle grazing in fields
Vaccination could prevent the disease spreading
Vaccination of farm animals is to be sanctioned after the mass slaughter and 8 billion cost of last year's foot-and-mouth epidemic, it is reported.

According to the Times, ministers have been swayed by two government reports on the outbreak, to be published next month.

These will urge them into scrapping the slaughter policy if the disease returns, with healthy animals being vaccinated instead to prevent the disease from spreading.


I don't doubt that vaccination will have a stronger role as part of a contingency plan

Elliot Morley, Environment Minister
Environment Minister Elliot Morley said vaccinations were a viable "option" since the relaxation of world trade rules which prevented the export of meat and livestock for a year after a vaccine is used.

Supporters of vaccination say it could prevent another outbreak, and that mass culling is simply needless.

But there are problems with it: It takes four days to work, and even then may not be completely effective.

Vaccinated animals can still carry the virus and pass it on, without showing any symptoms.

'Technical problems'

There would be a marked effect on UK exports - some could continue, but British meat would be barred from the US, and vaccinated British animals could not be exported there or to Japan.

Mr Morley told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "There are some technical problems with vaccination and some problems in relation to the rules on application.

"I actually think these are problems that can be overcome and I don't doubt that vaccination will have a stronger role as part of a contingency plan although it is probably likely to be used alongside the stamping-out policy.

"But I don't doubt that it will have a greater use in the future, particularly as technology improves and also as we get some of the trade rules, which prevent the use of vaccination, changed."

There are several strains of foot-and-mouth, and vaccines work against only one strain of the virus. Animals need booster shots every six months or so.

  • Positive blood tests for another serious disease affecting pigs have been made at the Essex abattoir where the foot-and-mouth outbreak was first discovered.

    Routine tests at Cheale Meats in Brentwood revealed six suspected cases of Aujeszky's Disease - an illness which can kill piglets, though it is not as contagious as foot-and-mouth.

    Further tests are being carried out at premises around England, which supplied the animals, including Lancashire, Cheshire, West and North Yorkshire, West Sussex and Lincolnshire.

    The State Veterinary Service will visit the six premises where the pigs either came from or had contact with.

    The first British case of Aujeszky's Disease - which is also known as pseudorabies - was in 1979.

    Slaughtering affected animals had wiped out the disease within 10 years and the country was declared free of the disease in 1991.

  •  WATCH/LISTEN
     ON THIS STORY
    The BBC's Daniel Boettcher
    "Many Farmer's believe it simply won't work"


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    19 Mar 01 | UK
    04 Aug 01 | Science/Nature
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