FMD vaccines: what you want to know

Beef Central, 07/10/2022

Vaccinating small holder cattle around feedlots.

Vaccination is one of the methods being used to control the current outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) in the Indonesian archipelago.

Australia is currently free of FMD and we do not vaccinate for FMD in Australia. However, it’s helpful for our industry to know the facts about vaccination and what progress has been made to vaccinate livestock against FMD in Indonesia.

Here, MLA’s Program Manager for Animal Wellbeing, Michael Laurence, shares his insights on FMD vaccines and the FMD vaccination program MLA is assisting with in Indonesia alongside the Australian and Indonesian Governments.

Is there a vaccine for FMD?

Several vaccines are available to protect animals against FMD. The vaccines protect animals from clinical illness, reduces viral shed and slows the spread of the disease.

Can we vaccinate our livestock against FMD?

Currently Australia is recognised as ‘free from FMD, without vaccination’. This means we do not have FMD in Australia and we do not vaccinate for FMD in Australia. This status allows Australia’s international trade to continue. If our herds are vaccinated, Australia would lose this status, which would affect trade.

Other countries like Australia where the disease is not endemic also do not vaccinate for FMD pre-emptively.

What would make us consider vaccinating?

The decision of whether to vaccinate and how to apply vaccination in Australia is complex and will depend on many factors including:

  • the nature of the outbreak
  • epidemiological considerations
  • logistical and resourcing issues
  • animal welfare considerations
  • industry and public attitudes
  • socio-economic considerations
  • trade implications
  • international standards
  • international experiences with the use of vaccination in previously free countries.

The Consultative Committee on Emergency Animal Diseases (CCEAD) will consider the use of vaccination from day one of an FMD response, as one of the potential strategies for disease control.

Do we have access to vaccines if we need them?

Australia has an overseas FMD vaccine bank and vaccine will be available for use if there is an incursion in Australia.

What’s the vaccine useful for?

Vaccination may be useful for a range of purposes during FMD outbreaks, including (but not limited to):

  • protecting groups of animals from infection
  • suppressing the spread of FMD within and out of an infected area by vaccinating selected groups of animals
  • mass vaccination to protect large numbers of animals over a wide area from infection and clinical signs of disease.

Are they vaccinating in Indonesia?

So far, more than two million head of cattle have been vaccinated against FMD in Indonesia. MLA and the Australian Government are providing support to deliver and administer more vaccines.

Is MLA helping with the vaccination effort?

MLA is providing $1.3 million in funding to an Indonesian FMD vaccine support project enabling importers to purchase up to 600,000 vaccine doses for Australian cattle entering Indonesian feedlots. The vaccines will be administered by importers and funding provided on a cost recovery basis by MLA. Read more about this project here.

Alongside this, MLA is also investing in the development and testing of mRNA vaccines that can be rapidly mass-produced in Australia to protect against exotic disease outbreaks.

Source: Meat & Livestock Australia


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