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  EU policy on vaccination against foot and mouth diseaseslide

The European Community's strategy to fight foot and mouth disease is aimed at eradicating this highly contagious disease as quickly as possible, and at keeping economic damage to a minimum. The most effective means of doing so is to slaughter and destroy infected or potentially infected animals.

As part of this eradication policy, vaccination can and must be used as an emergency measure to prevent the spread of foot and mouth disease within a radius of 1 to 3 km around an infected herd, but only as a temporary measure on animals awaiting slaughter and destruction, where there is insufficient capacity for their immediate slaughter and destruction.

In the present situation, national and EU policy makers and politicians can carry out emergency vaccinations only in areas around infected herds, as discussed at the Standing Veterinary Committee meeting on Friday 23 March. The Committee confirmed that, if it is decided in the Netherlands or elsewhere in the EU to introduce emergency vaccination, this may only be on condition that all animals concerned are subsequently slaughtered and destroyed.

The slaughter and destruction of animals vaccinated as an emergency measure is necessary because, with the available testing methods, it is impossible to distinguish between an animal which has been vaccinated against FMD and one which is infected. Vaccination therefore makes it impossible to trace infected animals and, consequently, to eradicate FMD. The slaughter and destruction of infected or potentially infected animals is necessary to maintain the FMD-free status of the EU as a whole.

Large-scale vaccination is not an option in the present FMD crisis and under the present eradication policy. Large-scale vaccination can only be considered if a foot and mouth epidemic cannot be brought under control in any other way. At present, 11 of the 15 EU countries are free of FMD, and the origin of all infected herds identified outside the United Kingdom can be traced back directly to animals from the United Kingdom.

Should the further development of the situation make it necessary for the EU to decide to introduce large-scale vaccination, the immediate consequence would be that third countries would prohibit the import of all live animals and non-treated products from the EU. This would lead to very severe losses in terms of trade and employment.



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