< > Glossary & References / Miscellaneous Documents List / D35 Discussion Documents for the 2001 UK Foot-and-Mouth Disease Outbreak / Text Sections:
document was produced by MAFF as a specific response to the FMD outbreak in the UK in 2001
and was made available on their website. Risk Assessments and specific recommendations
related to the conditions in the field at the time and should be viewed in this context as
they may not be applicable to outbreaks occuring under different circumstances.
FMD: Approach to Vaccination of Animals in Zoos
A Commission decision of 12 April permitted, but did not require, Member States to use vaccination to protect endangered species (and possibly irreplaceable research animals). It also required zoos and similar enterprises containing endangered species to implement any biosecurity measures necessary to protect the animals; what is involved in implementing such biosecurity measures is set out on the MAFF website.
The Commission decision was not directed at improving the commercial position of zoos by allowing them to stay open despite real risk of infection. The conditions under which vaccination is allowed, and the arrangements for vaccination are very restrictive. There are also international trade implications to be taken into account.
When might a Member State agree that animals in a zoo qualified for vaccination?
What conditions apply to the carrying out of vaccination?
What are the consequences of vaccination for the zoo?
What are the consequences of vaccination for the Member State?
The present position of OIE (the international animal health organisation) is that, if an FMD free country without vaccination, uses vaccine in any animal, including zoo animals, it will automatically lose its status. There would need to be a 12 month waiting period after vaccination had ceased before the UK could revert to its previous status as a "FMD free country where vaccination is not practised". This must be contrasted with the waiting period of 3 months after the last case of FMD infection in outbreak in an FMD free country which has not used vaccination.
A recent OIE Working Group made a recommendation to the General assembly that meets in May, to change the OIE Code to state that if a country uses vaccine in zoo animals it will not lose its trading status. However, it cannot be guaranteed that the recommendation will be put to the vote and, even if it is, that member countries will vote to adopt it.
What would happen if FMD was found in a zoo?
The affected animals would probably need to be slaughtered, but an epidemiological study would be conducted of other animals on the premises to see if there was a case for treating them differently. Whether the zoo had biosecurity measures in place and could isolate groups of animals would be relevant to any decision.
Approach in the light of this
The cases in which zoo animals could be vaccinated are very limited and vaccination brings addition restrictions for thirty days and, in some respects for longer.Vaccination of zoo animals could also have significant implications for the UK's and possibly the EU's international disease and trading status. We are not clear that vaccines currently available are effective in all species in any case.
In these circumstances, the best course is to encourage zoos and similar premises to rely on the biosecurity measures which have already been promulgated. The approach might be further considered if vaccination were adopted for farmed livestock or if there were unexpected developments in the spread of FMD.
Return to top of page