The role of vaccination in a FMD outbreak

 Resize text         Printer-friendly version of this article Printer-friendly version of this article

If foot and mouth disease (FMD) ever emerges in the United States, vaccination probably would play a role in our control strategy. The nature of the disease, however, makes vaccination a complex issue. Speaking at last week’s Beef Industry Summer Conference, veterinarian John Zack, with USDA/APHIS Veterinary Services outlined how vaccination would fit in various outbreak scenarios.

Historically, vaccination has been viewed as a secondary strategy, primarily because the FMD-protective antibodies in vaccinated animals mimic those resulting from exposure. However, attitudes regarding vaccination as an early intervention strategy are changing. Other elements of a control strategy include biosecurity and “stamping out,” or destruction of animals in an affected area.

Zack says APHIS has set three primary FMD response goals:

  1. Detect, control and contain FMD in animals as quickly as possible.
  2. Eradicate FMD using strategies that seek to stabilize animal agriculture, the food supply, the economy and protect public health.
  3. Provide science- and risk-based approaches and systems to facilitate continuity of business for non-infected animals and non-contaminated animal products.

If it becomes apparent that stamping out will not achieve control, containment and eradication of FMD, alternative strategies will be considered. Zack outlined several strategies that could come into play, depending in part on the size of the outbreak and the virulence of the virus.

  • Stamping out – This could be used exclusively if the outbreak is contained within a relatively small area where culling of animals could eliminate the virus and prevent its spread.
  • Stamping out with vaccination to kill – In an area with high concentrations of livestock, the logistics of killing and disposing of large numbers of animals in a short time would be daunting. This strategy would involve vaccinating animals in an affected area and surrounding buffer zones to prevent spread of the virus until those animals could be properly depopulated and disposed of.
  • Stamping out with vaccination to slaughter – This strategy would involve stamping out on the infected premises, with vaccination used within the surrounding control area and vaccinated animals sent to slaughter.
  • Stamping out with vaccination to live – This would involve stamping out of clinically affected and in-contact susceptible animals and vaccination of at-risk animals outside the control area. Vaccinated animals intended for breeding, slaughter or other purposes live out their useful lives.
  • Vaccination to live with no stamping out – This could be used in protection vaccination zones outside control areas.

 Upon news of an outbreak, the Secretary of Agriculture would activate the North American FMD vaccine bank, operated in cooperation with Canada and Mexico. The challenge would then be to produce adequate doses of the appropriate vaccine based on the serotype of the outbreak, maintain a cold chain and distribute doses to veterinarians in the field. In addition to the North American Vaccine Bank, U.S. officials likely would need to purchase vaccine doses on the international market. Supplies of vaccine might struggle to meet demand, especially if an outbreak were to occur in an area with high livestock density.

For more information, visit USDA’s National Center for Animal Health Emergency Management website.

Comments (2) Leave a comment 

e-Mail (required)


characters left

August, 14, 2013 at 10:38 AM

Read the books by twentieth century soil expert and microbiologist Sir Albert Howard, including The Soil and Health and An Agricultural Testament. He documented how correct soil health and proper grazing practices gave cattle a natural immune response to foot and mouth disease in India and elsewhere, insisting that all good health begins with the soil. From healthy soil come healthy plants, then the animals that consume green plants, then the humans who consume the meat from grassfed animals. Sir Albert allowed the animals under his care to interact with cattle infected with foot-and-mouth over a period of many years in various locations in India, including grazing on common pasture with infected animals, without his animals ever becoming infected. Sir Albert's diagnosis: “Foot-and-mouth outbreaks are a sure sign of bad farming.” Other notable quotes: ". . . the most promising method of dealing with plant diseases lay in prevention—by tuning up agricultural practice." "Mother earth never attempts to farm without live stock; she always raises mixed crops; great pains are taken to preserve the soil and to prevent erosion; the mixed vegetable and animal wastes are converted into humus; there is no waste; the processes of growth and the processes of decay balance one another; ample provision is made to maintain large reserves of fertility; the greatest care is taken to store the rainfall; both plants and animals are left to protect themselves against disease." Today, the best and most efficient way to animal and human health is through management-intensive grazing of cattle and other ruminants, made possible by modern electric fencing methods, to replenish the soil, improve plant vigor, and produce cattle with immunity.

NWKansas  |  August, 15, 2013 at 08:07 AM

Having attended several Foreign Animal Disease workshops I can only tell all of you who think this is a good idea (moving Plum Island work to Manhattan, Ks) is that you need to see the destruction it causes. Suicides, burning of facilities, loss of livestock and wildlife, and the continual vaccination once you get it. The Manhattan project is not supported by the director of Plum Island because of the risk. The damage to the State of Kansas and shortly thereafter with an outbreak will be a financial and economic disaster that has not been seen before (if the shutdowns of traffic occur like "they" claim they will do). The Plum Island lab has vaccination but the issue is that there is not enough to go around. The new vaccine is stable (not live) according to the director of Plum Island. I've read that Plum Island will continue to operate for 10 years. Lets hope it always operates. As for the Kansas Congressional group that supports "Digging the Grave for the USA Cattle Industry" with the breaking ground for Manhattan all get replaced in the elections by others "much" smarter and way more intelligent. Remember this, we have spent millions protecting our country from foreign illegal immigration and world terror, how is that working? This disease will change our country forever and someone should be accountable for bringing it here to the mainland. At 1.6 Billion in cost, leave it to the Government to screw up our livestock industry (every time they mess up when their involved) all in the name of "Jobs and Growth" for Manhattan, Ks. It is a sad state of affairs when you put trust into Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts (others) to do what is right!

XUV 855 Power Steering

Combining power steering with diesel power, durability and toughness, the 30 MPH, 22.8 HP John Deere Gator XUV855D features updates that enhance ... Read More

View all Products in this segment

View All Buyers Guides

Feedback Form
Leads to Insight