Vets consider mass vaccination campaign

European Union chief vets meet to discuss the possibility of using vaccinations to control the outbreak of foot-and-mouth

In light of the foot-and-mouth outbreak in the Britain and the likelihood that it could spread to continental Europe, the European Commission admitted that the occurrence of the disease in Britain has now developed into a European problem. The Commission said that the outbreak could be slowed down or even stopped with the complete immunisation of all at risk animals.

The Standing Veterinary Committee (CVP) will meet on 6 and 7 March 2001 to discuss the possibly of a mass vaccination scheme. The problem regarding a Europe-wide vaccination programme is that there are currently only 8 million available vaccinations. Approximately 50 million vaccinations would be needed. The policy is still seen as a last resort and will most likely be rejected as too drastic and expensive.

Any vaccination scheme would need the approval of veterinary experts and then a formal go-ahead from EU agriculture ministers. The European Union ended mandatory vaccinations against foot-and-mouth in 1990 when the disease was believed to be manageable.

The committee is expected to extend the current export ban on British livestock, meat and dairy products for at least another week. They will also consider authorising the closure all national borders to imports and exports of livestock at threat.

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