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Health and Consumer Protection

Press releases

Brussels, 7 March 2001

Foot-and-mouth disease: Results of the Standing Veterinary Committee

The Standing Veterinary Committee (SVC) gave a favourable opinion on a Commission proposal to extend until 27 March 2001 the existing protective measures adopted in response to outbreaks of foot-and-mouth disease in the United Kingdom. The dispatch of live animals, fresh meat and meat products, milk and milk products and other animal products from the UK continues to be prohibited, unless the latter are treated appropriately. In addition to these already existing measures, further precautionary measures will be taken: An EU wide ban of markets and assembly points for all susceptible species, a standstill of all susceptible species except for direct slaughter and direct from farm to farm, subject to authorisation by the competent authorities and disinfection of the tyres of vehicles travelling from the UK to other Member States. The proposal will be formally adopted by the Commission in the next few days and shall be reviewed at the next meeting of the SVC, for the moment scheduled for 20 and 21 March 2001. The Commission and the Member States also consider that recourse to vaccination would not be the appropriate response to the outbreak.

From 20 February to 6 March 2001, 80 outbreaks of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) have been declared in the United Kingdom. On 21 February 2001, the Commission adopted protective measures to restrict the dispatch of live susceptible animals (bovine, ovine, caprine and porcine species and other biungulates) and products derived from such animals from UK. On 1 March 2001, these measures have been prolonged and the emergency killing of sheep and goats imported from the UK into other Member States and the isolation of other susceptible species in the Member States have been decided.

The Standing Veterinary Committee (SVC) examined the situation in relation to the outbreaks in the United Kingdom, as well as the situation in other Member States. It received a very detailed report on the situation in the UK in particular on the clear epidemiology of the disease, and strongly appreciated the measures put in place by the authorities of the UK to eradicate the disease. It also received additional detailed information on various suspicions of foot-and-mouth disease in other Member States (MS) which occurred during the last few days and the action taken. All MS should be congratulated on the fast and efficient measures which have been taken to react to suspicions of FMD.

The Standing Veterinary Committee gave a favourable opinion to a Commission proposal on further precautionary measures aimed at:

- a prolongation of the measures for the UK until 27 March;

- an EU-wide ban of markets and assembly points for all susceptible species for a period of two weeks;

- a standstill of all susceptible species except for direct slaughter and direct from farm to farm, subject to authorisation by the competent authorities for a period of two weeks;

- disinfection of the tyres of vehicles travelling from the UK to other MS.

Furthermore the option of vaccination was discussed in the SVC and in view of:

- the limited excretion of virus by infected sheep and consequently the very limited wind borne spread of the disease at this stage,

- that in the UK, the outbreaks have occurred mainly in fattening sheep for slaughter which have been infected before the standstill (established on 23/2/2001) and notably through their movement through markets or dealer premises,

- the actual epidemiological situation in the UK,

- that there is a good probability to confine the virus to contact animals which are primarily sheep by continuing the stamping out policy in force,

- the traceability which has been carried out by the UK authorities,

- that no circulation of the virus has been detected in other MS,

the Member States and the Commission consider that recourse to vaccination would not be the appropriate response at this stage. The Committee also considered the huge financial consequence of general vaccination in particular for the farming community, and the trade implications.

The Commission continues to actively monitoring the situation with the full co-operation of the UK veterinary health authorities and the Member States. The situation will be reviewed at the next meeting of the Standing Veterinary Committee, for the moment scheduled for 20 and 21 March 2001.

Released on 07/03/2001

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FOOD SAFETY | PUBLIC HEALTH | CONSUMER PROTECTION | DIRECTORATE GENERAL "HEALTH & CONSUMER PROTECTION"

 
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