Foot-and-Mouth Epidemic 2001

This page and its internal links were set up to help llama owners during the epidemic that swept the UK's sheep, cattle and pig industries in 2001.

We have left the information on our site for archive purposes. Some will be, or become, out of date- - especially the external links.

Preventative medicine?
Slaughter: food for thought

Can we vaccinate our llamas against fmd?
Vaccine does exist: it is made here in the UK and exported, but it cannot be used in this country or in the EU.
The principle reason for this, we are given to understand, is because the vaccine contains the virus, so that once used vaccinated animals cannot be distinguished from those harbouring the actual disease. Thus if used here, the UK would lose its fmd-free status which would destroy the export industry. Hence the slaughter policy which means once the disease is eliminated by  systematic slaughter, then "the industry" will have the chance to retrieve its fmd-free status and return to normal...

It is said that the vaccine is not 100% effective and cases of fmd being contracted from vaccinated animals have been reported.

Growing demands for vaccination

When fmd first broke out there was almost no mention of the possibility of vaccination. Since the failure to halt the disease's spread, however, demand for its use have been growing, both from the farming community at large and from many scientists and vets.
The possibility of its use is now at the forefront of policy discussion.

Unfortunately there is much contradictory information and some misinformation as to the effectiveness and dangers of vaccination.

One of the stated reasons for not using vaccine, for example, is that it cannot be distinguished from the disease. Recent reports that new processes mean it can be distinguished have been dismissed by some scientists as "misreading of the evidence."
It may be, therefore that if used as a "firewall", it will only be a temporary measure to hold back the disease's relentless advance and that all vaccinated animals will end up being slaughtered anyway (in order to remove all traces of fmd even in  vaccine form). Thus demands for vaccination of healthy animals not due for slaughter at this stage may, according to current (28/03/01) government thinking, lead to their ultimate death warrants.


Preventative Medicine?
In the foot and mouth epidemic of the 1960's a number of farmers turned to a homeopathic medicine "Borax 30" (not to be confused with domestic borax) to try to prevent the disease. No scientific evidence has shown that it is effective however and a British Veterinary Association spokesperson has been quoted as doubting it has any positive effect. (On the other hand no farms that suffered fmd in previous outbreaks in the 1960's were shown to have tried it, so there is no given evidence of its failure either!)
Borax 30 must not be given undiluted and is added to drinking water. Ask your vet or farm shop for more information before using it.
Footnote: Borax 30 cannot be used as a "remedy"  in the sense of a cure, as has been suggested somewhat misleadingly, but only be tried as a preventative. If livestock has fmd it must be reported to the Ministry of Agriculture immediately, whereupon it will be subject to the current policy of slaughter.