… Current vaccine supplies are only sufficient to protect about 14 percent of the cattle in Texas or 4 percent of Iowa’s swine, leaving all the rest in the country susceptible…
GAO report says USDA should up its game and store more FMD vaccine
By Dan Flynn, Food Safety News by Marler Clark
March 14, 2019
Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) in humans is rare, with only about 40 cases recorded since 1921, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
But FMD is a highly contagious viral disease that causes fever and painful lesions in the hooves, mouths, and udders of cloven-hoofed animals. The last FMD outbreak in the United States was in 1929. The USDA has been on guard ever since. The U.S.Government Accountability Office (GAO) said in a March 12 report the USDA’s efforts “could be strengthened.”
Although nearly a century has passed without a U.S. outbreak of FMD, the GAO says the disease could still reach the United States from countries in Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe or South America.
“The United States is vulnerable to FMD transmission, given the large size and mobility of the U.S. livestock sector,” according to GAO. As of last year, the oversight agency says, the U.S. had 94 million head of cattle, 74 million swine, 5 million sheep, and more than 2 million goats.
If FMD did reach American shores, USDA would respond by killing infected or susceptible animals and vaccinating uninfected animals. The department would likely employ a combination of those strategies, depending on the situation.
The GAO report says USDA will be challenged to detect, control, and contain FMD quickly, eradicating the disease while stabilizing the industry and the economy while facilitating commerce in uninfected animals The report identifies 11 challenge areas for USDA, including a limited supply of FMD vaccine. The small amount of vaccine now available means USDA could only control a small FMD outbreak.
Current vaccine supplies are only sufficient to protect about 14 percent of the cattle in Texas or 4 percent of Iowa’s swine, leaving all the rest in the country susceptible. It is not a new concern. The Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 includes a provision to increase the FMD vaccine supply...