Questions and Answers - Response to Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD)
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Does the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) have an emergency preparedness and response plan in place for a FMD outbreak?
Canada has plans in place to rapidly and effectively control and eradicate FMD should it enter the country.
The current strategy for FMD is called stamping-out, which includes the killing of affected animals, the disposal of contaminated carcasses and products and decontamination of animal holdings.
The objective is to:
- quarantine and control movements of suspect animals, products and by-products
- perform tracing activities to quickly identify all exposed premises and potentially-exposed high-risk animals
- put in place surveillance activities to quickly detect any new positive cases; and
- stamp-out affected animals in order to avoid further spread
- use FMD Vaccination if and when required
The scope and details of the response and timelines would depend upon how far FMD has spread before it is detected, the density of livestock in the affected area(s), the size of the affected farms, and the effectiveness of the biosecurity measures on the farms, all of which are the main factors that contribute to the scale of the outbreak.
Who is responsible for controlling the spread of a disease during an outbreak?
Although controlling the spread of a foreign animal disease is a shared responsibility, the CFIA leads in the foreign animal disease emergency response plan. This authority is legislated under the Health of Animals Act. Co-operation and support between all levels of government and the livestock industry is key to the successful control and eradication of a disease that could affect the health of Canada's livestock population and the economy.
What biosecurity practices should livestock producers follow to guard against FMD?
Canadian livestock producers play a key role in protecting animal health. Strict biosecurity practices should always be followed to minimize the introduction and spread of any infectious animal disease, including FMD. Producers can protect the health of their livestock by:
- restricting visitors' access to animals
- preventing animals from coming into contact with wild animals
- routinely cleaning and disinfecting, footwear, clothing and equipment
- keeping records of the movement of people, animals and equipment on and off the premises
- purchasing new animals, feed and supplies from reputable suppliers; and
- keeping new animals separate from existing animals for at least 2 weeks
Producers should also ensure that all staff - particularly those who are hired on a seasonal basis - are familiar with principles of biosecurity.
Is there compensation available to Canadians for animals that may be destroyed due to FMD?
The federal government provides financial compensation to owners whose animals are ordered destroyed under the Health of Animals Act as part of an official program to control or eradicate diseases considered a threat to Canada's livestock population. The goal of compensation is to encourage owners to report disease in their herds and flocks at the first sign, to prevent or reduce the spread of disease, to allow tracing to the source, and to help owners rebuild their herds.
Owners are awarded the market value of each animal ordered destroyed, up to a maximum amount prescribed in legislation. These maximum amounts vary by species.
How would the CFIA require the disposal of FMD-infected animals after depopulation?
The CFIA would require the disposal of affected animals by incineration or burial in agreement with provincial or municipal environment authorities.
Does the CFIA have a vaccine to respond to an FMD outbreak?
The CFIA is dedicated to protecting animal health and preventing the introduction and spread of animal diseases. Budget 2023 provides $57.5M over 5 years (2023 to 2024 to 2027 to 2028) and $5.6M ongoing to establish a FMD vaccine bank for Canada and to further develop FMD response plans. This funding will provide Canada with a dedicated vaccine source to support the CFIA and industry in the event of an outbreak. This complements Canada's current access to vaccines through the North American Foot and Mouth Disease Vaccine Bank (NAFMDVB), ensuring readily available vaccines for Canadian producers.
How would the vaccines be distributed?
Canada's new FMD vaccine bank will consist of concentrated FMD vaccines that can be rapidly changed into usable vaccines in a timely and cost-effective manner. Canada would only vaccinate in the event of an outbreak. The determination of which animal species, number, type of production and location that would be vaccinated will be determined based on different factors of the outbreak with the objective of limiting the spread of the disease.
Will all animals be proactively vaccinated?
No. Vaccinations will only occur in the case of an outbreak.
It is not practical or feasible to proactively vaccinate all animals for FMD. There are 7 different serotypes of the FMD virus and about 26 different strains currently circulating worldwide. Vaccinating against 1 strain does not necessarily guarantee cross protection against other strains.
Canada's FMD animal health status at the World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH; founded as Office International des Épizooties (OIE)) is free where vaccination is not practiced, which allows for broader market access. Vaccination would only be used in situations where the outbreak has the potential to become larger in scale.
Can I buy FMD vaccine to vaccinate my animals?
No. The FMD vaccine is not available on the market in Canada. Canada does not allow for FMD vaccination except in certain clearly defined situations, such as in the face of an overwhelming outbreak. This policy is based on good disease control principles and, at the same time, gives Canada the widest possible access to international trade.
Would Canada consider vaccinating if FMD entered the country?
The use of FMD vaccination is known to reduce the length of an outbreak and the number of infected premises by about half in large outbreaks. A decision on whether to vaccinate would be made during the first 2 weeks of an outbreak and would be based on whether CFIA assessed that the outbreak had the possibility of becoming large scale.
The WOAH, the world standard-setting body for international trade in animals, lists countries and zones of the world that have met criteria with respect to FMD. Canada and its major trading partners are on the "FMD free where vaccination is not practiced" list.
If we decide to vaccinate, would we be able to get enough vaccine? Would it be the right vaccine?
Each vaccine bank holds different vaccine strains selected by a panel of specialist that match those virus strains that are the most at risk of entering North America. In the event of an outbreak, Canada would request vaccines from the NAFMDVB. Canada is also establishing an independent vaccine bank that is not yet available.
Are FMD vaccines produced in North America?
No, there are no FMD vaccines produced in North America at this time. The North American Foot-and-Mouth Disease Vaccine Bank stores its holdings of only frozen, concentrated antigens at the manufacturer. This allows the manufacturer to quickly finish these concentrates into usable vaccines when requested. All FMD Vaccine Banks in the world, store their concentrates at the manufacturer.
What would be the trade implications for Canada if we were to opt for control with vaccination and did not slaughter vaccinated animals?
If Canada decided to opt for a longer term vaccination policy in order to control the outbreak, we would be listed by the WOAH as a country that is "FMD free where vaccination is practiced". We would be unable to export certain commodities to our major trading partners since most industrialized countries, including the U.S., restrict imports from countries that practice FMD vaccination, even if they can prove that they do not have FMD.
Production of meat and animal products for export is a very significant part of Canada's economy. It is in our best interests to maintain our current status as "FMD-free where vaccination is not practiced."
If we had an outbreak, how long would it be before our trading partners accepted our FMD-free status again and resumed trade?
While many factors come into play when a country considers whether to start importing from a country that has experienced an outbreak of FMD, we (or our trading partners) would be guided in part by the WOAH guidelines Article 8.8.7.
To regain "FMD free where vaccination is not practiced" status, emergency vaccination has to be a temporary measure and then all of the vaccinated animals must either be slaughtered (commonly called a vaccinate to kill strategy or inventoried and subject to movement restrictions for the duration of their lives (commonly called a vaccinate to live strategy).
Once WOAH would re-instate Canada's FMD free where vaccination is not practiced status, negotiations with trading partners to re-open markets would begin and would likely involve on-site visits.
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