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APHIS invests $27 million in foot-and-mouth disease vaccine stockpile

Progressive Cattle Editor Carrie Veselka Published on 24 July 2020

The USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) recently announced the purchase of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) vaccine for the National Animal Vaccine and Veterinary Countermeasures Bank (NAVVCB).

APHIS plans to invest $27.1 million in acquiring the vaccine and adding it to the stockpile and NAVVCB.

While the U.S. successfully eradicated FMD in 1929, it is still a problem in other parts of the world. The virus that causes FMD is extremely contagious and afflicts animals with cloven hooves like cows, pigs, sheep and deer – not to be confused with hand-foot-and-mouth disease, which primarily affects humans, especially young children.

Vaccinations for diseases like FMD can help control the spread of infection by reducing the amount of virus shed by animals and by controlling clinical signs of illness. According to a statement from APHIS, although an outbreak of FMD would temporarily disrupt international markets – something the cattle industry is all too familiar with – proper vaccination would still allow animals to move through domestic production channels.

“While we are confident we can keep foot-and-mouth disease out of the country, as we have since 1929, having access to vaccine is an important insurance policy,” Marketing and Regulatory Programs Undersecretary Greg Ibach said in a press statement. “Vaccines could be an important tool in the event of an incursion of the disease in the U.S., but their use will depend on the circumstances of the incursion and require careful coordination with the affected animal industries.”

The NAVVCB is part one of a three-part program authorized by the 2018 Farm Bill to support animal disease prevention and management. In the event of an outbreak, animal health officials would decide when, where and how to use the available vaccine based on the circumstances of the outbreak. The new U.S.-only vaccine bank makes a much larger number of vaccine doses available than are currently accessible through the North American Foot and Mouth Disease Vaccine Bank.

The USDA has awarded a contract to Boehringer Ingelheim to help supply the FMD vaccine. Boehringer Ingelheim is to create and maintain a strategic reserve of frozen vaccine antigen concentrate that the company could quickly formulate into an FMD vaccine in the event of an outbreak in the U.S.

“As a global leader in the storage and management of FMD vaccine banks, with FMD expertise dating back more than 70 years, Boehringer Ingelheim constantly monitors emerging disease threats,” said Steve Boren, Boehringer Ingelheim’s vice president of the U.S. Livestock Business.

“Boehringer Ingelheim has proudly supported the U.S. livestock industry for decades as a leader in animal vaccine technology,” Everett Hoekstra, president of Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health USA Inc. said in a news release. “Infectious animal diseases can disrupt our food supply, and governments make significant investments to help prevent and prepare for such events.”  end mark

Learn more about the NAVVCB program at APHIS programs that receive farm bill funds.

Carrie Veselka
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