While the foot and mouth disease is playing havoc with the economies of
developed countries like the UK, India has been adopting a more conservative
approach of vaccinating the animals for the past three decades.
"Vaccinating the domestic animals against FMD on a regular basis is the best
means of preventing the spread of the disease," says Dr S M Lal, the joint
director of the Bangalore-based Indian Veterinary Research Institute (under
ICAR), which is the only government-aided institution that has been has been
making FMD vaccine since 1972.
"FMD is prevalent in an endemic form in India. But it is wrong to say the
disease spread from here," he says.
India produces 25 million doses of the FMD vaccine annually, of which IVRI
produces 4 million doses. The rest is manufactured by two companies in the
private sector, Indian Immunological, Hyderabad and Intervet Baiaf, Pune.
But the vaccine production is insufficient keeping in mind the fact that the
country has 209 million cattle, 92.2 million buffaloes, 56.7 million sheep,
120.6 million goats and 15.4 million pig population.
"We are prepared to increase production as per government requirements," he
says. "Animals have to be vaccinated at least twice a year as it gives
protection only for 6 months.
In the case of calves it may have to be vaccinated three times. In a developed
country like the UK the vaccination programme would be very costly.
FMD renders the infected animals economically unviable as the milk production
drops and the animals do not gain weight and so are unfit for consumption.
Their value in the meat market dips.
Hence farmers find it cheaper to slaughter the infected animals rather than go
in for a vaccination programme." India has a policy of not destroying infected cattle and hence has chosen the vaccination option.
The vaccine is a liquid preparation which can be monovalent (against a single
virus type) or polyval
ent (against all types of virus). The FMD is caused by
four virus types - O, A22, C and Asia I. "The present epidemic in the UK is
caused by O type," says Dr Lal. "IVRI supplies vaccines to state governments
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