AVMA wants expanded FMD vaccine bank

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The U.S. lacks a national vaccine supply sufficient for a foot-and-mouth disease outbreak, according to AVMA leaders.

In July, the AVMA House of Delegates enacted a policy that says the Department of Agriculture should expand the national FMD antigen bank into one that could be used to create vaccine during an outbreak.

The policy calls for cooperation by the AVMA, USDA, state agencies, and veterinarians to ensure FMD vaccines would be delivered during an outbreak. It also says they should collaborate to research new vaccines, maintain laboratories, improve tests for the disease, plan for outbreaks, and give the public accurate information during an emergency.

The AVMA further recommends that federal officials use caution in approving importation of meat and other animal products from FMD-endemic regions.

The AVMA Board of Directors recommended that the delegates enact the new policy, citing action last year by the U.S. Animal Health Association.

In October 2017, leaders of the USAHA passed a similar resolution in favor of a larger federal FMD vaccine bank. They called for $150 million yearly for the vaccine bank, $30 million yearly for the National Animal Health Laboratory Network, and $70 million yearly in grants to states for animal disease emergency preparation.

Cattle, pigs, sheep, goats, and deer are among the animals sickened by the FMD virus. The disease causes fever and blisters in and near the mouth, on mammary glands, and around hooves. Other signs include weakness, anorexia, and lameness.

A May 2018 report from the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service on FMD and vaccine use states that vaccination is one of the most powerful tools in fighting an FMD outbreak.

During an outbreak, the USDA would control vaccine produced by approved companies. The U.S., Canada, and Mexico maintain the North American Foot and Mouth Disease Vaccine Bank, which contains inactivated vaccine stock that can be used to create finished vaccines by manufacturers.

"However, the current quantities in the bank are only sufficient to address small outbreaks," the APHIS report states. "If countries use all the doses from the bank, they would need to rely on vaccine manufacturers to provide a continuous supply to conduct a vaccination campaign. It takes at least 14 weeks for newly manufactured vaccine to be available."