UK considers vaccine

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: European union, Epidemiology, Infectious disease

As Britain prepared to slaughter hundreds of thousands more healthy
sheep that may have been exposed to foot-and-mouth disease, the
government indicated...

As Britain prepared to slaughter hundreds of thousands more healthy sheep that may have been exposed to foot-and-mouth disease, the government indicated on Wednesday that it might reverse policy and use vaccination against the outbreak. In Parliament, Agriculture Minister Nick Brown called the epidemic "an unprecedented outbreak that has not yet reached its peak."​.While Mr. Brown did not commit the authorities to a switch to vaccination, he did say that the government "is considering whether to use vaccination."​ The government has resisted vaccination out of concern it would hurt Britain's livestock and meat exports. Current tests cannot distinguish between an infected animal and a vaccinated one, making it difficult to prove that animal products are not diseased. The European Union outlawed vaccination against foot-and-mouth disease a decade ago in order to qualify member countries' livestock and meat as free of both foot-and- mouth disease and vaccine for export to countries that included the United States. Britain banned all meat and livestock exports when the outbreak was first identified on Febrary 19. Now, Mr. Brown said today, Britain has asked the European Union for "a contingent decision permitting the use of vaccination during the present outbreak, so that it can be deployed immediately if we conclude that is the right approach."​ On Wednesday 30 new cases of the disease were confirmed in Great Britain bringing the total to 728. Of the 55 million livestock in the UK 719,000 have been identified for slaughter and 441,640 have already been slaughtered leaving 277,360 awaiting slaughter. 323,213 carcasses have been disposed of.

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