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Establishing guidelines on post-vaccination monitoring of foot-and-mouth disease


27 September 2013 - Foot-and-mouth disease (FMD), which affects cloven-hoofed animals, is endemic in many low-income countries and continues to re-emerge and cause serious production losses even in the presence of extensive vaccination programmes. Until recently, support from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) focused on implementing a global control strategy where an effective vaccination programme is crucial in the success and elimination of the disease.

However, because of the complexity of the FMD virus, vaccination carries several challenges. The margin for error is wide, from the use of bad quality or expired vaccines, not maintaining the cold chain to untrained vaccinators applying the vaccine incorrectly. Vaccination is also a costly control method, in particular if it fails to provide protection.

In light of these challenges, FAO is augmenting its efforts to support countries by promoting Post-vaccination monitoring (PVM) systems in order to evaluate the levels of protection of animals after vaccination against FMD. FAO is leading the initiative to provide guidelines to countries to measure their vaccination effectiveness under the global framework of Transboundary Animal Diseases in collaboration with the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE).

From 26–28 June 2013, a group of international experts met at FAO headquarters to begin establishing a set of PVM guidelines. FAO plans to make these guidelines available to the international community by the end of 2013. The guidelines will give countries the criteria according to which an FMD vaccination programme may be considered successful or not and help identify ways to improve it. The aim of the guidelines is also to enlighten decision-makers on the effectiveness of FMD vaccination programmes.

Countries will be able to utilize these guidelines to support disease management at any stage of a FMD outbreak, whether at early or mid-control stages or when the country is free from the disease but still at risk of introduction. Through these guidelines, FAO is providing countries with the tools to take future action according to the results of the PVM, which can help establish the problem areas (e.g. that the vaccine was not the right one or that training levels were not adequate).

To complement the PVM guidelines and facilitate their uptake, FAO will conduct training sessions at regional and national levels to introduce the PVM guidelines in order to evaluate herd immunity. Giving countries both the tools and capacities to use them, FAO is working to ensure more effective disease protection alongside existing control measures such as applying a good farm biosecurity, stopping contaminated animal movement, and safe trade.

 

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