Vaccinate against FMD now!

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The UK must develop a programme of vaccination against FMD now. Sheepdrove’s line is “Cure not cull!” because it’s time to start caring and stop the killing.

Peter Kindersley points out, “Defra’s outdated FMD strategies have been a disaster for rural communities. This government’s stupid, pointless policy led to a 2001 bill of £8.5 billion and 6.5 million animals killed – the vast majority not infected by FMD!”

“We saw in 2001 that the mass slaughter policy was a disaster for the countryside and there is nothing to stop the same madness happening again. We need a new strategy.”

Sign the petition!

Go to http://petitions.pm.gov.uk/To-live-now/ where you will find a petition to No.10 Downing Street. Here’s your chance to tell the government that you do not support their mass slaughter strategy. Do it now, don’t let them forget about this important issue!

Better for animal welfare

Compassion in World Farming are campaigning strongly for FMD vaccination, because they can see that mass cull policy leads to a devaluation of life for millions of sentient animals; and during outbreaks, standards in animal welfare have been given a lessened priority. CIWF are clear about the exaggerated reputation of FMD, and say, “It usually runs its course in 2 or 3 weeks after which the great majority of animals recover naturally.”

Real Science

Vaccination for FMD was reviewed by the Royal Society in 2002 and by the EU Scientific Committee on Animal Health and Animal Welfare (SCAHAW) in 2003. Both came out in favour of an increased role for vaccination in both routine and emergency control. The Royal Society report concluded that “emergency vaccination should be seen as a major tool of first resort, along with culling of infected premises and known dangerous contacts, for controlling FMD outbreaks”.

Sheepdrove Organic Farm supports the Royal Society’s conclusion that the “policy should be vaccinate-to-live, which necessitates acceptance that meat and meat products from vaccinated animals enter the food chain normally”.

The Royal Society also stated that “many experiments have failed to demonstrate the transmission of disease from carriers to susceptible animals in close contact with them”, whilst reports of carrier transmission in outbreak situations are ‘largely historical’ and were made before tests could determine whether the virus in the carrier animal and the infected animal were the same strain.

High potency vaccine prevents sheep from becoming carriers and pigs have never been shown to be carriers. The scientists continue: “We conclude that detailed scientific evidence for the infectiousness of carriers is weak.”

Vaccination is generally seen as the responsible way to eradicate disease, both in animals and in humans. Vaccination of livestock against a range of diseases is normal practice.

A bit more science

The virus that causes Foot and Mouth Disease is in a group called the Picornaviridae – the same family as Polio virus. Instead of DNA they have RNA, and gradual changes in their genes create slightly different structure to their protein capsule. (Click here for a diagram).

Certain sections of this capsule are known as neutralisation sites because this is where antibodies attach as part of an immune response. Immunised animals with the right antibody are able to stop the virus. Structural changes to neutralisation sites make new ‘serotypes’ and require a new vaccine, however the rate of change is usually rather slow with Picorna viruses – not as fast as the mutations seen in influenza virus, for example.

Modern FMD vaccines are not live virus. They are either dead virus or purified proteins.

What needs to happen?

Policy makers need to learn from the latest science to drive a comprehensive re-think. Serious and swift steps are required to advance EU and British policy to support a proper vaccination system. For example:

  • Vaccination must be adopted as the ‘first line of defence’ against FMD
  • Trade penalties must not be held against vaccination in comparison to culling.
  • Proper controls and animal registration (built into the current system) can enable tracing of vaccines and immunisedlivestock.

Defra must promote the facts (real science) behind a vaccination policy and immunisation programmes, including the following:

  • The mechanism of how FMD vaccine works – being clear that this is a dose of dead virus material. This would stop the myth of perpetuating infection by vaccination or the belief that it is necessary to cull healthy, uninfected animals after vaccination.
  • How serology testing can distinguish between vaccinated and infected animals.
  • Vaccinated animals make safe meat and this should be treated equally in trade. No extra labelling will be needed, as UK consumers already eat vaccinated meat.

Myths and awkward questions

  1. How do we tell the difference between animals who are infected and those who are vaccinated? Modern vaccines are purified and contain only non-structural proteins (NSP) to stimulate antibodies to just the ‘neutralisationsites’ on the virus. This means that tests can distinguish between vaccinated and infected livestock, as the latter will have produced additional antibodies to structural proteins as well as NSP antibodies.
  2. Can vaccinated animals be carriers of the disease? Vaccines are not living viruses. If animals have up-to-date vaccination and are healthy, infection should not happen. Remember non-immunised animals are MORE likely to catch and carry FMD! The Royal Society in 2002 concluded that the risk from carrier animals is actually very low.
  3. Aren’t vaccines too slow to be effective in an emergency? An immune response to the vaccine can be effective after 4 days.
  4. What about the virus evolving into new strains? All types of vaccines require continual updating to cover new strains, as normal practice.
  5. Culling will still be needed, won’t it? Only infected animals will need to be culled, rather than carrying out a ‘just in case’ mass slaughter.
  6. Vaccination will destroy the UK meat trade. There is a need to change the current trade rules. Immunisation against FMD only extends the period before an ‘all clear’ so any ban on exports following future FMD outbreaks would be temporary.

We need a new strategy. Cure not cull!
Please sign the petition! – http://petitions.pm.gov.uk/To-live-now/

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One Response to “Vaccinate against FMD now!”

  1. FIKIRTE SHEWATATEK Says:

    I READ ALL WHAT U WRITE,AS FAR AS AM 5th YEAR VET. STUDENT I KNOW VERY MUCH ABOUT FMD AND I AM WRITING MY THESIS ON IT.IT IS AN AMAZING TO DO THIS MASS SLOUGHTER WITH RESPECT TO ITS ZOONOTIC IMPORTANCE WHICH IS VERY FEW.AND I AGREE WITH U’R IDEA “CURE DON’T CULL” BECAUSE IT IS ALSO HARASSMENT OF THE RIGHT OF AN ANIMAL.THE ANIMAL SHOULD ONLY DIE FOR CONSUMPTION OR IN ACCIDENT AS FAR AS IT IS HEALTHY-NON INFECTED!!!

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