I am dismayed that the Government has not yet begun a programme of emergency ring vaccination around the outbreak of Foot and mouth disease (FMD) in Surrey.
Defra's website states "The Government accepts that emergency vaccination should be considered as a disease control option from the start of any outbreak of FMD. There is a vaccination contingency plan in place, which would enable vaccination to begin 5 days after disease is confirmed if it is felt necessary".
Evidently the Defra vets prefer their old stampout methods at this stage. However, while they are killing herds that have an outbreak, the virus may be spreading to other vulnerable herds, through the air, through the water. Vaccination will reduce that vulnerability. The virus can multiply in unvaccinated herds. Its multiplication is significantly reduced in vaccinated herds.
Defra will argue that it is impossible to tell whether cattle in vaccinated herds are harbouring the virus. This is not true. Slightly more elaborate tests can establish this.
The Green Party devoutly hopes that Defra will bring this outbreak under control in the next few days.
If it spreads out of control, we should seek the dismissal of all involved in the decision not to vaccinate at this early stage.
Emergency vaccination will be considered if a veterinary risk assessment shows that measures additional to the basic slaughter policy were required to control the disease. The Vaccination Regulations 2006 place vaccination at the forefront of disease control policies and put in place control measures to enable vaccination to take place.
The EU Directive gives greater prominence to the potential use of emergency vaccination in the event of an outbreak as an adjunct to the basic slaughter policy. The Government accepts that emergency vaccination should be considered as a disease control option from the start of any outbreak of FMD. There is a vaccination contingency plan in place, which would enable vaccination to begin 5 days after disease is confirmed if it is felt necessary.