One of the great medical advances of our age has been the effectiveness and sophistication of vaccination against disease in both animals and man. In human health, through vaccination, we have eradicated smallpox and plan to do the same with polio.
But there remains one corner of the world where vaccination for serious animal diseases is still viewed with great suspicion and caution – our very own Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Defra.
During the debacle of foot and mouth disease in Surrey this summer, Defra declared that vaccination was an unnecessary disease control tool as it had “certainty” about the disease’s origin and spread. It preferred to use slaughter (stamping out) and thereby avoid the longer period of isolation from international trade that vaccination use would bring.
Now we’re told vaccination is not being considered to help control the current avian flu H5N1 outbreak in Suffolk/Norfolk because of “uncertainty” surrounding its epidemiology.
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