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FMD Policy to Increase Readiness

30 May 2012

AUSTRALIA - The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) has developed a national policy for vaccination against foot–and–mouth disease (FMD), boosting Australia’s preparedness against the disease.

DAFF Deputy Secretary, Rona Mellor, said vaccination is increasingly being recognised as an important part of controlling an outbreak of FMD.

“While Australia has been free of foot–and–mouth disease for more than 100 years, it is still by far the most significant biosecurity threat to Australia’s livestock industries,” Ms Mellor said.

“Rather than considering vaccination a ‘measure of last resort’ in controlling an outbreak of FMD, Australia will now consider the potential role of vaccination as part of the response strategy as soon as an incursion of FMD is detected.”

Both experience overseas and disease modelling studies carried out in Australia show that, in some circumstances, early vaccination is essential to effective disease control.

With the new policy in place, an FMD Vaccination Expert Advisory Group is now developing detailed guidelines indentifying the circumstances under which vaccination will be a useful strategy, and the best strategy for different outbreak scenarios.

“The new policy acknowledges the need to maintain flexibility so that decision–makers can consider the potential role of vaccination appropriate for each specific outbreak scenario.”

During a recent meeting of the Standing Council on Primary Industries (SCoPI ) the Australian Government and all states and territories endorsed the national policy on the use of vaccination during a foot–and–mouth disease outbreak.

The update better aligns Australia’s FMD vaccination policy with advancing vaccine technologies, community perspectives and international standards and practices.

Following the 2011 Matthews report, which highlighted vaccination policy as an area where Australia’s preparedness for FMD could be improved, consultations were held with key livestock industry bodies, states and territories, the Animal Health Committee and the Primary Industries Standing Council.

The Foot–and–mouth Disease Vaccine Experts Advisory Group will hold meetings with industry in 2012 to ensure continued input.

It is estimated that in the unlikely event of a FMD outbreak, the disease could cost Australia as much as $16 billion. This is based on a worst case scenario of a 12–month outbreak spread across a large area.


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