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Vets voice value of vaccination for World Veterinary Day

World Veterinary Day (WVD) takes place annually on the last Saturday of April and this year vets from around the world join together on April 27 to highlight the crucial importance of vaccination.

Since 1796, when Edward Jenner performed the world’s first vaccination against smallpox, enormous strides have been made in the development of vaccines which have helped to prevent – and, in some cases, eliminate – disease in humans, farm animals and pets.

The veterinary profession, through effective and efficient veterinary services, is crucial to the success of vaccination campaigns in animal health throughout the world and, as a result, in protecting human health from diseases of animal origin.

Peter Jones, President of the BVA, commented:

“The discovery of disease prevention and control through vaccination remains one of the greatest scientific achievements and I am delighted that the World Veterinary Association and the OIE have chosen to highlight the value of vaccination for this year’s World Veterinary Day.

“The impact that vaccines have had on world animal and human health has been immense. Diseases have been greatly reduced and countless lives saved. And, in my lifetime, I have witnessed the eradication of two devastating diseases – smallpox in humans and rinderpest in livestock – brought about through the application of effective vaccination campaigns.

“Research into vaccine development is vital and I am proud to see British scientists at the forefront of developing a new ‘synthetic’ vaccine for foot-and-mouth disease (FMD). This new vaccine does not require live virus in its production so can be produced without expensive biosecurity and does not need to be kept refrigerated. This signals a huge advance in the global campaign to control FMD and the technology could also impact on how viruses from the same family, including polio, are fought.

“We are constantly exposed to new disease threats. The Schmallenberg virus hit our shores early last year but we are fortunate that a candidate vaccine is already being considered by the Veterinary Medicines Directorate for authorisation.

“On the other hand, African swine fever is nudging closer to Europe and there is currently no vaccine against this highly contagious vector-borne disease. A worrying thought.”

Bob Stevenson, the BVA representative on the World Veterinary Association (WVA) and European Councillor, added:

“What a timely theme for the WVA and OIE to adopt for World Veterinary Day 2013. Following on from the 2012 theme of antimicrobial resistance and the careful use of treatment protocols, what could be more appropriate than to shift the emphasis firmly from treatment to positive prevention? Every day vets throughout the developed and developing world are planning prevention. Whether cow-side at pasture or in groups with small animal owners, extolling the benefit of prevention over the cost of treatment is what we do.

“Exciting new vaccine developments will not replace the need for continued use of current vaccines to prevent the inevitable endemic disease, but will create an enhanced range of vaccines for use in all animals. Parallel developments in immunology in both humans and animals provide yet another example of ‘One World, One Health, One Medicine’.

“By increasing the range of vaccines and by making vaccines available in an ever increasing number of countries, both the pharmaceutical industry and organisations such as GALVmed are providing veterinarians with the tools to substantially improve the health and welfare of animals and to contribute to human wellbeing. Vaccination has been one of the most important interventions in disease prevention that has ever been developed.”


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