The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) published a notice seeking sources for Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD) vaccine as part of its FMD preparedness initiative. FMD, a foreign animal disease endemic in Africa, Asia, South America and the Middle East, can affect all cloven-hoofed animals, including pigs, cattle and sheep. FMD rarely infects humans and isn’t a food safety issue, but an outbreak in North America, which currently is free of it, could negatively affect meat exports and domestic meat sales.
The National Pork Producers Council in February urged lawmakers and the Obama administration to make dealing with an outbreak a priority. “Improving preparedness for an FMD outbreak through development of an adequate vaccine bank must be a priority,” testified NPPC immediate past president Dr. Howard Hill, a veterinarian and pork producer from Cambridge, Iowa, before a subcommittee of the House Committee on Agriculture. According to USDA, the goal of the request for information is to identify vaccine manufacturers that can supply the types of FMD vaccine needed, in the amounts needed and in the appropriate timeframe. The information provided by the manufacturers will help APHIS make decisions on how to increase FMD preparedness.
The agency also will use the information to determine future budget needs to enhance the vaccine stockpile. U.S. law prohibits live FMD virus from being on the U.S. mainland, so APHIS currently contracts with foreign vaccine production companies to produce finished vaccine from the antigen stored at Plum Island Animal Disease Center, off the coast of Long Island, N.Y. But only a limited number of FMD strains are covered by the antigen stored at Plum Island, and under current production contracts, only 2.5 million doses of vaccine could be produced within three weeks of an outbreak. FMD crisis drills show an estimated 10 million doses would be need in the first three weeks, with a possible 40 million additional doses.