USDA’s APHIS making progress on its FMD vaccine bank and other projects
for The Fence Post
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has announced progress toward its goal of building a U.S.-only vaccine bank to have in the unlikely but dreaded event of a foot and mouth disease (FMD) emergency.
“On Jan. 16, we announced progress in implementing the 2018 farm bill programs,” said Joelle R. Hayden, public affairs specialist with USDA APHIS in Riverdale, Md. As part of that progress, the first FMD vaccine contracts are expected this spring through the National Animal Vaccine and Veterinary Countermeasures Bank. The 2018 farm bill included funding for three different initiatives that support animal disease prevention and management.
“USDA has always worked best when it collaborates with states, universities and farmers and ranchers out in the field,” said USDA Undersecretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Greg Ibach, in a statement issued through Hayden. “Our farm bill programs allow us to continue to strengthen these vital partnerships. Working together, we can further improve our ability to protect U.S. animal health, and respond to animal disease events. At the same time, we will continue to ensure we have an effective insurance policy in the extremely rare chance of an outbreak of certain high consequence foreign animal diseases, like foot and mouth disease,” Ibach said.
The 2018 farm bill provided funding for these programs as part of an overall strategy to help prevent animal pests and diseases from entering the U.S. and reduce the spread and impact of potential disease incursions.
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APHIS continues efforts to stand up the National Animal Vaccine and Veterinary Countermeasures Bank (vaccine bank.) The funding from the 2018 farm bill will support all aspects of the vaccine bank, including identifying and evaluating new products, enhancing the ability to use vaccines for effective disease response, and stockpiling the inventory for the vaccine bank to effectively support any animal disease outbreak. The first priority of the vaccine bank is to increase the U.S. stockpile of foot and mouth disease vaccines.
So, the first step of the process was to issue a “sources sought” notice to gather information from interested vaccine manufacturers regarding their ability to supply FMD vaccine. APHIS issued that notice last September, and received a total of seven responses. APHIS used those responses to develop a strategy for acquiring an increased supply of FMD vaccine, and then issued a request for proposals on Jan. 22.
APHIS’ target goal is to have the initial FMD vaccine contracts in place this spring, and to invest between $15 and $30 million on vaccines by the end of 2020. The vaccine bank will allow APHIS to stockpile animal vaccine and other related products, serving as an effective insurance policy in the extremely rare chance of an outbreak of certain high consequence foreign animal diseases, like FMD.
TRAINING AND EXERCISES
APHIS is awarding $5.2 million through the National Animal Disease Preparedness and Response Program. The NADPRP funded projects will advance the capabilities, capacity, and readiness of the nation’s animal agriculture sector responders through training and exercises. They will be led by state animal health authorities and land-grant universities in 25 states. The projects will address training and exercise priorities in all major livestock industries and all regions of the United States, with a third of the projects impacting national or regional levels.
3rd USDA APHIS project
APHIS is awarding $5 million through the National Animal Health Laboratory Network. NAHLN is a nationally coordinated network and partnership of federal, state and university-associated animal health laboratories. If foreign animal pests or disease would happen to strike, then diagnosing and detecting the extent of the outbreak as rapidly as possible is a key component to limiting the impact of the pest or disease on producers. This group of projects will be led by NAHLN laboratories representing 19 states. Collectively, they address test method development and validation, improving electronic transmission of data, increasing biosafety and biosecurity in laboratories and enhancing emergency preparedness. These efforts will enhance the capabilities of the NAHLN laboratories.
A critical concern of any potential major animal diseases, is the cattle, and the economic impact, among others.
“We’re an FMD-free country. Foot and mouth disease would stop international trade of meat and susceptible livestock, at that point. The current North American bank is shared with the U.S., Canada and Mexico — and the U.S. gets about 70 percent of that vaccine bank,” said Justin Smith, DVM., animal health commissioner for the Kansas Department of Agriculture. But Smith noted that the current vaccine bank has not been robust enough.
“It’s woefully lacking in amount of doses available, so a U.S.-only bank would increase doses. That bank would house the vaccine to be available in case of an outbreak to vaccinate animals to stem the spread of the disease,” Smith said.
WHAT IS FMD?
“Foot and mouth disease is a devastating virus that many consider the most infectious, contagious animal virus in the world, affecting cloven hoofed animals including cattle, sheep, swine, goats. It causes lesions on the feet and blisters — and causes production losses,” Smith said.
“It is not a food safety issue. Also, it is not a human health issue. Some may possibly confuse it with hand, foot and mouth disease in children but it is not at all the same,” Smith said.
Symptoms include blisters, sores on gums, muzzle, tongue sometimes, between the toes and on the hoof. “Animals may have trouble walking, and if any of these symptoms occur, we ask animal owners to seek help, first from their veterinarian,” he said.
Feedlots, dairies, hog operations, and individual livestock producers are encouraged to develop a “secure beef” or “secure pork” biosecurity plan.
“We’re encouraging operations to look at any vulnerabilities that could increase exposure. One of the best ways to avoid susceptibility to an animal disease is with enhanced biosecurity,” Smith said.
A member of Smith’s staff is working with producers on developing a secure beef, milk and pork plan based on a national template.
“It’s been more concentrated on our larger operations, but we’ve had conversations with all size producer operations — how do you get feed, how to provide care for animals safely to have some level of biosecurity,” he said.
Also, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is building the National Bio and Agro-defense Facility — the nation’s foremost animal disease research facility — adjacent to Kansas State University’s Manhattan campus.
In a separate project, high-priority diseases in cattle and swine such as FMD, and African swine fever will also be tackled by three K-State College of Veterinary Medicine professors, with recently announced grants totaling almost $1 million from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service.
The three K-State professors are Jurgen Richt, Regents distinguished professor and director of the Center of Excellence for Emerging and Zoonotic Animal Diseases, who received a $150,000 USDA ARS grant for “Evaluation of Novel Foot-and-Mouth Disease Virus Vaccine Candidates with Broad Breadth of Protection-Phase II.”
Mike Sanderson, professor of epidemiology and associate director of the Center for Outcomes Research and Epidemiology received a grant for $176,900 and is leading the project “Simulation Modeling of Foot-and-Mouth Disease Outbreaks in Livestock in the U.S.”
Jishu Shi, professor of vaccine immunology received a $640,720 grant for “Actions Supporting the Development of an African Swine Fever Virus Live Attenuated DIVA Vaccine.”
The goal is to help generate new knowledge on next-generation vaccines for FMD, to ultimately prevent and control the disease. Shi’s research focuses on control strategies against African swine fever virus a major issue in China and other Asian countries.
More information about the USDA APHIS programs is available at: https://www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/resources/farmbill. ❖
— Hadachek is a freelance writer who lives on a farm with her husband in north central Kansas and is also a meteorologist and storm chaser. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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