BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: UK: N Ireland  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
England
N Ireland
Scotland
Wales
Politics
Education
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
EDITIONS
Tuesday, 16 July, 2002, 13:27 GMT 14:27 UK
Vaccination 'last resort' says minister
Cattle grazing in fields
Vaccination could prevent the disease spreading
Vaccination should be only used as a last resort against foot-and-mouth disease, Northern Ireland's agriculture minister has said.

Brid Rodgers' comments came as a government-commissioned report, published on Tuesday, recommended vaccination should be part of any strategy to control a future foot-and-mouth outbreak in the UK.

The Royal Society inquiry said animals on an infected farm should still be culled but suggested healthy livestock on neighbouring premises should be vaccinated as a "major tool of first resort" to prevent the disease spreading further.

But Mrs Rodgers said she remained to be convinced that vaccination was the right option.

Northern Ireland Agriculture Minister Brid Rodgers
Bird Rodgers not convinced over vaccination
"Unless you had to use it, we would be very reluctant because of the impact on the export trade.

"It is something you would have to keep at the back of your mind and use if necessary, depending on the situation," said Mrs Rodgers.

"We didn't find it necessary as we were able to keep ahead of the disease and we didn't need to use vaccination. We were very lucky."

Northern Ireland's first outbreak was detected on 1 March last year among sheep imported from Britain to south Armagh.

Thousands of sheep and cattle were culled as cases of the disease were discovered in County Tyrone and in the Glens of Antrim.

'Cull not sufficient

The report, from Britain's foremost academy of science, is the first of two major studies into the government's handling of the epidemic last year.

The crisis resulted in the deaths of nearly four million animals, and the destruction of thousands of farmers' livelihoods.

The Royal Society report said the mass cull and severe clampdown on livestock movement implemented by government officials was essential to contain the highly infectious disease - but these measures were not enough on their own, it said.

animal burial
Thousands of animals were culled
"The rapid culling of infected premises and known dangerous contacts, combined with movement control and rapid diagnosis will remain essential to controlling foot-and-mouth disease and most other highly infectious diseases," the report said.

"In many cases this will not be sufficient to guarantee that the outbreak does not develop into an epidemic."

The Royal Society recommended Britain liaise with its European partners to ensure the necessary emergency vaccination procedures can be used by the end of next year.

The report stressed that routine vaccination should not take place in the UK, as long as the risk of disease entering the country remained low and provided proper procedures to handle a future outbreak were put in place.

The Royal Society urged international research groups to investigate "a vaccine that conferred sterile lifelong immunity against all foot-and-mouth strains", which would globally reduce the threat from the disease.

Currently, individual vaccines are only effective against a limited range of disease strains and animals have to receive regular boosters to maintain their immunity.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC NI's Martin Cassidy
"More than 50,000 animals were to die as a result of the outbreaks"
NI Agriculture Minister Brid Rodgers
"It is something you would have to keep at the back of your mind"


Analysis

Background

AUDIO VIDEO

CLICKABLE GUIDES

FORUM

INTERNET LINKS
See also:

16 Jul 02 | Science/Nature
19 Apr 01 | N Ireland
30 Mar 01 | N Ireland
19 Mar 01 | UK
04 Aug 01 | Science/Nature
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more N Ireland stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more N Ireland stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes