U.S., Canada ban EU animal imports to keep out F&M disease

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U.S., Canada Ban EU Animal Imports to Keep Out Foot-and-Mouth Disease

France confirms its first case of foot-and-mouth disease

Forum: Farm aid http://WWW.CANOE.CA/MoneyFarm/mar13_uscaneuban-dow.html

The U.S. Agriculture Department and the Canadian government announced they are temporarily prohibiting the importation of animals and animal products from the European Union into the U.S.

The move, plus a separate recommendation from European Union veterinary experts to ban all live animal exports from France until March 27, stems from several outbreaks of foot-and-mouth disease in France, a first in that country. The Agriculture Department announced similar actions last month against the U.K., where the disease broke out, as well as Northern Ireland.

Foot-and-mouth disease, which rarely affects humans, is a highly contagious disease of ruminants and swine that can have devastating economic consequences. The spread of the disease -- which affects all cloven-hoofed animals such as cattle, pigs and sheep -- is extremely difficult to control. The airborne virus can be carried from one place to another by humans, wild animals and even vehicles.

The USDA said a team of 40 experts is being sent to Europe to monitor, evaluate and assist in containment efforts. The U.S. has been free of foot-and- mouth disease since 1929. In recent weeks, the department has stepped up measures to guard against the ailment.

Travelers are prohibited from carrying any farm products that could spread the disease, and there is a state of "heightened alert" at ports of entry to ensure people, luggage and cargo are checked.

Lyle Vanclief, Canada's Agriculture Minister, said all visitors from Europe will be subjected to the disinfectant procedures now in place for visitors from Britain, who have to walk across mats to disinfect their shoes when they land in Canada.

The EU action against France includes not allowing the country to export dairy and meat products from the French regions of Mayenne and Orne.

The French Agriculture Ministry said an infected cow was discovered among a herd of 114 animals at a farm in western France, next to a farm which had imported U.K. sheep in February. The herd was destroyed Monday night. Since then, another three cases of foot-and-mouth disease have been detected among sheep at three farms in the Seine-et-Marne region east of Paris.

Also in response to the French outbreak, Belgium's Agriculture Ministry announced a ban on all imports of French livestock and meat products, while the Dutch Agriculture Ministry ordered a transportation ban in the Netherlands on goats, pigs and cattle. The transportation of sheep in the Netherlands was already banned.

EU vets will meet again March 21 and 22 to review the current measures to control foot-and-mouth disease within the 15-nation bloc.

The swift measures against to stop the disease's spread stands in marked contrast to the sluggish response to mad-cow disease, which last year erupted on the European continent after devastating the U.K.'s beef industry.

Unlike the rare afflictions foot-and-mouth disease have on people, mad-cow disease is believed indirectly responsible for more than 80 human fatalities, apart from its decimation of cattle herds in Europe.

Politicians seem determined to be seen as bold and decisive in attacking the latest scourge. Earlier this month, the European Commission banned all British livestock imports to keep the current strain of foot-and-mouth disease at bay.

The strain hasn't been seen in Europe for nearly 30 years. Last week, EU vets ordered markets for livestock closed for two weeks in the 15-nation bloc in an effort to contain the outbreak.

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-- Swissrose (cellier3@mindspring.com), March 13, 2001


I've read that F&M is a temporary non-lethal condition of no danger to humans. The animals do recover from it. The only real effect during the disease is a reduction in milk production. All this destruction of animal life is a huge waste.

-- John Littmann (LITTMANNJOHNTL@AOL.COM), March 14, 2001.

Seems to me that the slaughter of rather-mildly-sick animals *is* the "devastating economic consequences".

Odd, isn't it: smallpox is stored, frozen, in the CDC labs *in* Atlanta. Ebola is studied (I believe) at Ft. Detrick, *in* Frederick, MD. But there was an NPR story about F&M disease a week or so ago: F&M is studied on a lab *on an island* just off the (North Carolina? I forget) coast; the researchers travel out by boat, change out of all their civilian wear including any jewelry, shower thoroughly and put on special work clothes. After work, they strip again, shower and scrub thoroughly again before allowed back into their civvies for the boat trip back home. Go figure.

-- L. Hunter Cassells (mellyrn@nist.gov), March 14, 2001.


This issue is complex, certainly much more complex than the media reports most people get their information from.

While I myself am not an expert in *animal* disease control, it is clear from the discussion on PROMED (www.promedmail.org) that there are well-reasoned arguments on both sides as to whether the “kill and burn” approach is warranted today. It may be that the old approach to controlling this disease, an approach which has worked well in past outbreaks (including especially the last outbreak of FMD in the UK in 1967) is no longer appropriate; I am neutral on the matter because it is beyond my expertise as a physician-epidemiologist, with expertise in controlling *human* outbreaks of other diseases. Certainly some good arguments are being raised on both sides. In this matter, I know enough to say I don’t know.

But it has been made clear in the scientific discussions on PROMED that FMD is not a trivial disease for animals or farmers, as some people seem to think. Nor are the scientists calling for “kill and burn” ignorant and heartless. And of course, control of any outbreak is a mixture of politics and what is achievable in “the real world” – this is where the relevant basic disciplines like virology, veterinary medicine, and epidemiology (epizoology, actually) become “public health.”

I post below just a few of the *many* informative posts that can be found at: http://www.promedmail.org/pls/promed/promed.searchhtml.showhits


It takes a farm 2 years to fully recover from the impact of FMD. There is a 60% loss of embryo implantations during the outbreak, plus a 100% stop in breeding during the 3-4 weeks as the infection works through the herd; calves die; increased mastitis rates because of the intramammary damage by the disease which is then followed by permanent loss of quarters; animals with permanent foot damage; and then there will be a significant number with damage to their thyroids. Other problems include raised body temperatures and coat changes, easily exhausted animals, animals not reaching peak lactation. The animals coming out of a milking shed have been so exhausted their tongues are totally relaxed virtually dragging the ground. They also have immune defects. In today's industry one cannot afford the permanent damage caused to a percentage of one's herd like this.

Cows greater than 110 days pregnant were at a high risk of aborting if they got FMD. Between successful implantation and 110 days they seemed to be immune to the disease. The reason it takes a herd 2 years to recover is tied to the upset to the breeding cycle and missing calves. Another economic hit.

According to Fenner, Bachmann, Gibbs, Murphy, Studdert, and White (Veterinary Virology 1987) FMD viruses "may persist in the pharynx of some animals for a prolonged period after recovery. In cattle the virus may be detectable for periods up to 2 years after exposure to infection, in sheep for about 6 months. Viral persistence does not occur in swine."

However, others report the virus in the esophagus can last longer than 2 years, 3 to 4 is well known. During which time it is subject to genetic drift especially as time passes. Thus when the host is stressed and the virus re-emerged it isn't the same as when the animal first encountered the virus. Now this "changed" virus finds a new bunch of now susceptible cattle to infect. So, given that some proportion of herds may be asymptomatic and some proportion of infected livestock may shed virus, there is a problem.

One of the saddest aspects of the slaughter mind-set is the impact on the people losing their animals. This is an old disease and we live in a very modern age of technology. No one seems to have made any progress with this disease. With other diseases we can distinguish between disease induced antibody titers and vaccination induced antibody titers. Why has technology not been applied to this disease?

I am grateful to Drs. Charlie Calisher and Martin Hugh-Jones for their assistance in understanding more about this disease and for their input here. - Mod.TG



A ProMED-mail post ProMED-mail, a program of the International Society for Infectious Disease

[see also: Foot-and-mouth disease viruses, taxonomy 20010304.0433 Foot & mouth disease, antiquated control 20010305.0446 Foot & mouth disease, antiquated control (02) 20010308.0476]

[1] Date: 6 Mar 2001 From: O. Hotz de Baar

[From a previous post:"It seems to me that with the enormous increase in movement of people and animals that takes place, the concept of controlling FMD by the elaborate rituals to assure FMD-free countries is no longer tenable or appropriate. What is wrong with a vaccination program?]

This is being discussed in some depth elsewhere, but perhaps with less accurate information than can be obtained here. Were a lifetime vaccine giving near 100% protection available this would no doubt be the easy option. Unfortunately as far as I (and others) can glean the available vaccines give only short-term (under a year) and partial protection; there are no multi-strain vaccines available.

Posts here have said that animals can excrete live virus for a number of years after infection, so any infected animals, either because they recovered naturally or vaccination curtailed symptoms, may infect un-vaccinated animals for some time. That would require vaccination of all stock once or twice a year.

To be honest, I doubt whether this could be reliably achieved UK-wide for the many years it would require for all excretors to leave the system. More likely one would be faced with regular scares of small outbreaks for a decade or even more. Furthermore, such a regime would not protect susceptible wildlife (particularly deer) that now share farmland with stock all over the UK.

I also draw to your attention the fact that FMD is spectacularly infectious and particularly unpleasant. Whilst the present tragedy in the UK is extremely distressing to farmers (and I might add a significant part of the non-farming population), so far the number of animals culled is only a miniscule portion of the national herd. It should also be pointed out that it is the first significant outbreak since 1967, and other countries have been more successful in maintaining FMD-free status.

As far as I know, the US has been free since the 1920's and Australia and new Zealand have been similarly effective at excluding the disease. It is thus clear that maintaining FMD-free status is a reasonable, even sensible, long-term technique.

It has become clear that the UK has been importing significant animal products from areas where FMD is known to be endemic. Argentina, South Africa, and even Botswana have been known to supply the UK. Controls at ports and airports are slack; figures of 1400 kg of local meat being found on passengers arriving from Ghana have been quoted.

Contrast that to the strict and rigorous controls in the US, Australia and New Zealand. It is thus astonishing that the UK has only had one significant outbreak since 1967. I think it is highly likely that very many in the UK will demand the banning of animal products from countries where FMD is endemic.

The contrast between the continued long-term export of meat products from countries where FMD is endemic and the immediate banning of all UK produce almost world-wide after one or two cases has been noted. The banning (which is already in place in many countries as I understand it) of importation of animal products from countries where FMD is endemic would put further pressure on these countries to eradicate the disease (possibly with outside assistance).

There can be little doubt that this would be beneficial to worldwide animal health, animal welfare, and the economies of those countries suffering from the ravages of FMD, many of whom have many small peasant farmers, to whom FMD must be particularly devastating.

-- O. Hotz de Baar S. England, UK

****** [2] Date: 6 Mar 2001 From: Charles H. Calisher

As expected, I have received many messages which together underline the complexity of the epidemiology and politics of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD). It is clear that there are many important and complex factors, including numerous viruses, various weather conditions, geography, customs, religions, politics, money and outdated attitudes. I can scarcely say I understand all this, but I will keep trying. I summarize below all messages received (no attribution provided, but I assure the readers that I did not fabricate them). [NB: Words in brackets are those of Charles H. Calisher.]

1. One of the main reasons vaccination was suspended about 10 years ago is that countries such as the US and Japan did not accept meat from vaccinated animals. Hence the trouble.

2. I sympathize with your call for a WHO-like group to oversee livestock, but would point out that public-choice economics suggests that some such people will always look the other way, as there is no institutional check on their behavior and saintly professional types are rare in any kind of bureaucracy. WHO, for example, just published an index of national health care systems that called the US system most responsive to patient needs, but ranked it very low overall because it wasn't equitable enough. The index had been constructed to heavily weight equity. Apparently the group's organizational culture prefers that everyone get equally lousy care. [I think WHO was simply being subjective in this regard.]

3. The use of ring vaccination [i.e., vaccinating susceptible animals surrounding the known infected focus, sort of a "cordon sanitaire"] in conjunction with a slaughter policy successfully eradicated FMD from Western Europe and most of [what was then colonial] Africa . As a consequence, research on vaccines in the UK was downgraded because FMD was no longer considered a threat. [Many of us know outstanding British FMD scientists who became what is known as "redundant" and migrated to the US]

The US does not have an abiding interest in FMD. [Not true, but the U.S. does not have an extensive international mission in this regard. These viruses are included in routine research studies and diagnostics done at the USDA's Plum Island Animal Disease Center. In fact, (from the PIADC web site ): "In the decade after World War II, outbreaks of foot-and-mouth disease in Mexico and Canada led Congress to establish USDA's Plum Island Animal Disease Center to keep America safe, but ready for the worst scenario: the introduction of this or other potentially devastating foreign animal diseases."]

US vets even persisted in calling it Hoof-and-mouth disease until very recently. [The Brits might now consider calling it "Foot-in- Mouth disease] The re-emergence of FMD is a consequence of the globalization of trade and the cheap food policies adopted by European governments after WWII. I doubt that the current epidemic in the UK will bring about a change in public opinion sufficient to support the investment in vaccine development required. Unfortunately the viruses causing this disease are antigenically highly variable.

At the recent International Congress of Virology held in Sydney, Fred Brown and Marc van Regenmortel described a very promising development in FMDV vaccine research. The peptide vaccine developed by Fred and his group at Pirbright is the only anti-viral peptide vaccine that is practical, and Marc's recent modification of it has enhanced its stability beyond expectation. I don't know whether any company is interested in developing this approach further.

4. There is a widely used and effective vaccine for FMD. It is used in countries that have active eradication campaigns in place. There are also vaccines prepared from several different strains of FMD that could be used to protect against the pan-Asia strain of FMDV. As far as I know, the UK has never utilized vaccines to FMD, even in the 1967 outbreak. The reason for this include: (1) in the past the vaccines had occasionally been shown to be contaminated with live virus, so those vaccines themselves could cause FMD (this has been largely controlled recently, and I am sure that vaccines made by the large multi-nationals are completely safe); (2) vaccinated animals may be difficult to distinguish serologically from previously infected animals (eliminating serology as a method of identifying infected animals); (3) while attempting to "emergency vaccinate" animals, the vaccination teams can spread disease; (4) and (in my opinion) most importantly, vaccinated animals may be come infected, and show less severe signs of disease, despite shedding virus, thus prolonging an outbreak by allowing infected animals to escape ready visual detection. Efforts are being directed toward development of more rapidly acting and more effective vaccines, as well as towards learning more about infection, with hopes of developing therapeutics that could help to reduce shedding, and learning more about viral ecology, spread, evolution, and host range. [Of course, one need not be concerned about live virus in a vaccine prepared from antigens unassociated with infectious materials.]

6. To help celebrate the 100th anniversary of the field of virology, celebratory meetings were held in Greifswald, Germany, and Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Marian Horzinek and I served as Editors of the presented papers for a Special Issue of Archives of Virology (Springer-Verlag, Vienna/New York, 1999). It was on the Island of Reims, just outside Greifswald, where Friedrich Loeffler and his associates did the first work with FMD. Doesn't look to me as though much has changed in 100 years. This is still a disease with a political basis. What may be needed is more funding of the right people, which is not a new concept.

-- Charles H. Calisher, Ph.D. Colorado State University Fort Collins, Colorado, U.S.A.



A ProMED-mail post ProMED-mail, a program of the International Society for Infectious Disease

[see also: Foot & mouth disease, antiquated control 20010305.0446 Foot & mouth disease, antiquated control (02) 20010308.0476 Foot & mouth disease, antiquated control (03) 20010308.0477]

Date:9 Mar 2001 From: Peter Mason, & Marvin J. Grubman, Ph.D.

Controlling FMD with vaccines?


Despite the fact that FMDV was the first animal virus discovered and that the disease it causes has been extensively studied, the most appropriate methods of control of the disease are still hotly debated. Policies on control are tempered by the fact that rapid decision-making in the face of an outbreak in disease-free regions is essential. Moreover, control must include restriction of animal movement (and indirect contacts between animals) and interruption of virus shedding. Both of these activities have a significant economic cost.

Although wide-spread vaccination in the face of an outbreak would seem to be the best possible method to prevent virus shedding, there are unique aspects of FMD that relate to its ease of spread, and large number of susceptible hosts that suggest vaccination alone is a simplistic approach.

Currently, there is an effective vaccine for FMD, an adjuvented, chemically inactivated preparation of virus particles that is widely used in countries that have active eradication campaigns in place to deal with enzootic FMD.

Seven serotypes of FMDV and multiple subtypes exist in the world today, complicating vaccination. Moreover, existing vaccines may not be effective for subtypes of virus that periodically arise. Due to its economic impact, university, company, and government laboratories (including the USDA's Agricultural Research Service laboratory at Plum Island Animal Disease Center) have embarked on programs of utilizing recombinant DNA technology to develop new vaccines to combat this disease.

One collaboration, spearheaded by USDA scientists working with Genentech, resulted in the first recombinant DNA vaccine capable of preventing a disease (Science, 214:1125; 1981). Since that time, publications on various products, including synthetic peptides, E.coli-expressed products, naked DNA, genetically engineered attenuated FMD viruses and virus vectors have been developed as FMD vaccine candidates. Despite their promise, most of these products fall short of the current inactivated vaccine in their effectiveness.

Even though the current vaccine has been shown to be effective, vaccines have never been used to control FMD in the UK (even in the devastating 1967 outbreak). However, the widespread use of the inactivated vaccine in the 50s, 60s, 70s, and 80s in Western Europe may have had beneficial effects for control of FMD in the UK.

There are multiple reasons why vaccines were not utilized in the UK, as well as in other regions experiencing infrequent outbreaks. Some of these reasons reflect the limitations of current vaccines, while others reflect limitations in implementing emergency vaccination programs.

First, the current vaccines can occasionally be contaminated with live virus, so the vaccines themselves can cause FMD (this has been largely controlled recently, and quality assurance protocols implemented by the large multi-national vaccine companies have eliminated this problem).

Second, vaccinated animals may be difficult to distinguish serologically from previously infected animals (eliminating serology as a method of identifying infected animals). Although this has been addressed by developments in diagnostic technology (some developed by the USDA), these tests are currently undergoing validation, and the economics of their utility has not been fully developed. Use of marker vaccines may also help in this regard, and there are some development programs in place. However, given the nature of the agent, animals that are negative for the marker pose a tremendous risk for re-kindling the infection.

Third, while attempting to "emergency vaccinate" animals, vaccination teams would be ideal "vectors" to spread the disease.

Fourth, and probably most importantly, with existing vaccines, vaccinated animals may become infected, and show less severe signs of disease, despite shedding virus. Thus vaccination, especially with vaccines that may not perfectly match the subtype of the outbreak virus, could prolong an outbreak by producing partially protected animals that shed virus without showing the readily identifiable overt signs of the disease. Inability to readily identify animals that could be shedding virus is a critical factor in FMD control.

In the case of the recent outbreak, this can be seen from the fact that sheep, which often do not display severe lesions from the disease, may have played an important role in disease dispersal in the UK.

Current USDA research efforts in vaccine development are aimed at developing more rapidly acting (suited for emergency response), cross- reactive (able to combat multiple serotypes and subtypes), and more effective (able to eliminate spreading) vaccines. We also are utilizing genomic and proteomic approaches to learn more about virus infection at the molecular level to develop therapeutics that could help to reduce shedding, and finally, we are characterizing viral ecology, spread, evolution, and host range, to provide knowledge that will help in development of control strategies.

-- Peter W. Mason, Ph.D. Research Leader, Foot-and-Mouth Disease Research Unit PIADC, NAA, ARS, USDA


Marvin J. Grubman, Ph.D. FMD Research Unit Plum Island Animal Disease Center Agricultural Research Service, USDA



A ProMED-mail post ProMED-mail, a program of the International Society for Infectious Diseases

[see also: Foot-and-mouth disease viruses, taxonomy 20010304.0433]

Date: 4 Mar 2001 From: C.H. Calisher

Dr. D.A. Henderson and I have been chatting back and forth about foot-and-mouth disease (FMD). As always, he had a number of questions and comments and, as always, I could not answer them. Here is what he said, modified slightly by me as follows:

"It seems to me that with the enormous increase in movement of people and animals that takes place, the concept of controlling FMD by the elaborate rituals to assure FMD free countries is no longer tenable or appropriate. What is wrong with a vaccination program?

The cost per animal is surely not a limiting factor. The vaccine has to match a prevalent or likely-to-be-prevalent strain. We do this now with influenza. Is anyone investing significant effort to develop a more broadly antigenic vaccine?

I've always thought that the present approaches to FMD are antiquated but the implications of pursuing the present strategy look to me to be absolutely devastating."

My sentiments exactly. No matter what the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses says (i.e., that there is one FMD virus species and 7 serotypes of that single virus species), any of 7 viruses can cause FMD. It may be taxonomically sound to consider 7 viruses that do not cross-protect against each other as representing a single species, but it is counterproductive in practical terms. For example, if one immunizes against one serotype and then challenges the animal with that serotype and the animal withstands that challenge, that animal must be immune to that serotype. If one then challenges that animal with another serotype and that animal succumbs to infection with the second serotype, how can anyone say that the two serotypes are the same virus? Same species, sure, but not the same virus.

Given the broad and remarkable advances in modern studies of viral molecular genetics, why is it not possible to clone a conserved portion (possessed by all these viruses, else they would not be so closely related) of the genome of these viruses and prepare a vaccine against any and all of them? We ask this simply because we do not know the answer. Present vaccination programs appear to be based on vaccination against the specific serotype circulating in one place at one time. Surely topotypic variations cannot make much of a difference with respect to application of a vaccine comprised of a broadly cross-reactive antigen, one that would protect against all serotypes. Alternatively, if a DNA vaccine has not been considered, now would be the time to do so.

It is my own opinion/observation that research into the intricacies of FMD and the viruses that cause it likely has been inhibited by economics constraints as much as by intellectual ones. Markets for illegal sales of livestock is a world-wide problem. Hypocritical functionaries who look the other way when cattle are slaughtered or moved from their country to another country and slaughtered there, who look the other way when beef carcasses are moved by train, in broad daylight, from country to country, are known to function with impunity in the name of national sovereignty. Few countries are willing to stick their noses into the affairs of another country. So, disgusting traditions continue without hope for abatement and maintenance of "markets" are the sine qua non of the industry and of political goals.

Perhaps there is a need for a W.H.O.-type organization for livestock. Not an organization that counts bodies but a proactive organization, one that will send people to the problem area and assist the local authorities in making decisions and in taking actions.

The situation in England, and now elsewhere, is no different from the situations faced by other countries in other times. Is this story destined to be told again and again and again? Checking the shoes of walkers just does not seem to be the most enlightened of techniques for control of a disease, particularly when modern molecular methods are practically screaming to be applied. We ought all to reread Santayana.

-- Charles H. Calisher, Ph.D. Department of Microbiology Colorado State University Fort Collins, Colorado, USA

-- Andre Weltman (aweltman@state.pa.us), March 14, 2001.

L. Hunter,

The animal research lab you mention is located on Plum Island, a rather short distance off the eastern tip of Long Island, New York: it’s full name is the USDA's Agricultural Research Service laboratory at Plum Island Animal Disease Center. The reasons it ended up (many decades ago) in that particular spot are a mixture of practical concerns over infected research animals escaping to the mainland, plus historical accident/political expediency. It’s not obvious to me that having the facility on an island is strictly necessary today (it certainly can’t hurt, but animals can show an amazing propensity to cross water when they aren’t expected to!); anyhow that’s where the facility is to be found so that’s where most live-animal U.S. research on the worst animal diseases is done.

I am not sure what your point is about the various other high- containment (BSL-4) labs, such as (among others worldwide) the facilities at CDC headquarters in Atlanta or at USMARIID at Fort Detrick in Frederick, Maryland. When researchers enter and leave the special lab containment areas at CDC or USAMRIID, they go through the same maneuvers as those used in other BSL-4 facilities including at Plum Island. The only difference is the researchers commute to work each day by foot, bike, or auto, rather than by boat; but that’s really a small difference.

The fact that the USDA facility is on an island while, say, CDC Building 15 is in suburban Atlanta has more to do with the animals than with the people who enter and leave the lab each day.

-- Andre Weltman (aweltman@state.pa.us), March 14, 2001.

Thanks for all of the cross-posting above, Andre. Gives the board even more quality.

Slash and burn. Wouldn't it be awful if we dealt with human epidemics in a similar manner?

I grew up on a small farm in northern Canada where hoof and mouth disease, as it was always called there and then, would occasionally be mentioned. The mere words would cause my parents' faces to pale.

BTW, the farm would have been called "organic" by today's standards; at that time, it was the norm. We knew that cows were herbivores.

-- Rachel Gibson (rgibson@hotmail.com), March 14, 2001.

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