Pig vets push for vac­cine stock­pile

Foot-and-mouth worry spurs call


A group of swine ve­teri­nar­i­ans warned law­mak­ers this week on Capi­tol Hill of the dan­gers of foot-and-mouth dis­ease, urg­ing them to es­tab­lish an off­shore vac­cine bank to quickly elim­i­nate the dis­ease and pre­vent fu­ture out­breaks from de­stroy­ing live­stock and dam­ag­ing the na­tional econ­omy.

At the rate global live­stock ex­ports are grow­ing, ad­vo­cacy groups are con­cerned that if more safe­guards aren’t in place, a foot-and-mouth dis­ease out­break could crip­ple the en­tire agri­cul­ture sec­tor and have long-last­ing ram­i­fi­ca­tions on the vi­a­bil­ity of U.S. live­stock pro­duc­tion.

“If the United States had an FMD out­break and didn’t have the abil­ity to quickly con­trol then erad­i­cate the dis­ease through vac­ci­na­tion, the cost to the U.S. beef, pork, corn and soy­bean in­dus­tries, alone, would be $200 bil­lion over a 10-year pe­riod,” Dave Warner, spokesman for the Na­tional Pork Pro­duc­ers Coun­cil, said in a state­ment. “That would dev­as­tate those agri­cul­tural sec­tors and have a neg­a­tive rip­ple ef­fect through­out the econ­omy.”

Twenty-three ve­teri­nar­i­ans from across the coun­try are in Wash­ing­ton, D.C., as

rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the Swine Vet­eri­nar­ian Pub­lic Pol­icy Ad­vo­cacy Pro­gram. The Na­tional Pork Pro­duc­ers Coun­cil and the Na­tional Cat­tle­men’s Beef As­so­ci­a­tion have made cre­at­ing a foot-and-mouth dis­ease bank its top pri­or­ity for the 2018 farm bill.

The highly con­ta­gious dis­ease is found in an­i­mals with di­vided hooves, such as cows, pigs, sheep, goats and deer. Symp­toms in­clude fever and blis­ters in and around the an­i­mals’ mouths, mam­mary glands and hooves. Most in­fected an­i­mals won’t die but will be weak­ened and un­able to pro­duce milk, ac­cord­ing to the U.S. Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture.

A group of ve­teri­nar­i­ans, one of whom was an ad­min­is­tra­tor for the USDA An­i­mal and Plant Health In­spec­tion Ser­vice, pub­lished a pa­per this month that con­firmed the need for an over­seas vac­cine bank to counter foot-and-mouth dis­ease. Ac­cord­ing to the re­lease, they con­cluded there’s a need for more vac­ci­na­tions and that they must be pro­duced over­seas be­cause cur­rent U.S. law for­bids stor­ing these viruses on the U.S. main­land be­cause of the risk of ac­ci­den­tal re­lease.

“Although the U.S. cur­rently par­tic­i­pates in the North Amer­i­can Foot and Mouth Dis­ease Vac­cine Bank, the need for a vac­cine bank ded­i­cated to the U.S. Live­stock in­dus­try is clear,” ac­cord­ing

to the re­lease. “The num­ber of dif­fer­ent vac­cine con­cen­trates … is re­stricted to only those thought to be most likely to en­ter the U.S.”

Even if the vac­cine is avail­able for an out­break, the amount is limited and would only yield enough to re­spond to a small, con­fined out­break.

Although the last de­tec­tion of the dis­ease in the U.S. was in 1929, its en­demic in other parts of the world. The last ma­jor out­break in 2001 resulted in the de­struc­tion of 6 mil­lion an­i­mals cost­ing the United King­dom an es­ti­mated $34.5 bil­lion.

Con­tained cases of footand-mouth dis­ease have al­ready been spot­ted this week.

Tues­day, a ship­ment of Colom­bian beef en route to Rus­sia was sent back after au­thor­i­ties were no­ti­fied of dis­eased an­i­mals in Colom­bia. Chile and Peru have also tem­po­rar­ily sus­pended beef im­ports from Colom­bia.

While ve­teri­nar­i­ans are cam­paign­ing for more vac­cines, some Brazil beef ranch­ers are claim­ing that such med­i­ca­tions are the cause of the U.S. im­port ban the coun­try is deal­ing with.

Brazil’s gov­ern­ment is in­ves­ti­gat­ing the sub­stances in its foot-and-mouth dis­ease vac­ci­na­tions. The coun­try’s beef ranch­ers blame the gov­ern­ment-man­dated vac­cines for the sores and ab­scesses on their cat­tle, which failed USDA san­i­tary in­spec­tions. Brazil­ian vet­eri­nar­ian med­i­cal sup­pli­ers say the ranch­ers claims are highly un­likely.

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