MAF Biosecurity New Zealand (MAFBNZ) has extended its contract with a French manufacturer of Foot and Mouth (FMD) disease antigen and vaccine.
MAFBNZ Director Post Border, Peter Thomson, said the contract renewed for a further five years an agreement MAFBNZ has had in place since 2005 to hold antigens in a UK-based facility from which a vaccine could be rapidly produced should FMD be detected in New Zealand.
The renewal of the contract reaffirms the long-standing policy within MAFBNZ that a Foot and Mouth Vaccine Bank is a critical part of preparedness for an FMD outbreak, Mr Thomson said.
“Vaccination is one of a range of tools that could be used to control FMD and help ensure New Zealand could quickly contain an outbreak of FMD while reducing the impact of control efforts, such as slaughter and depopulation of animals, if an outbreak of the disease occurred here,” he said.
FMD is a highly communicable disease found almost exclusively in cloven-footed, domesticated and wild animals, and all developed nations maintained vaccine banks to ensure they had the means to combat FMD occurring within their borders.
The presence of FMD in New Zealand would have a profound effect on our primary industries and our overall economy.
While New Zealand had never had an outbreak of FMD and remains free of the disease, it is endemic in a number of countries with numerous outbreaks occurring throughout the world each year, especially in Asia and South America.
“Given that Reserve Bank estimates put the impact of FMD on New Zealand's GDP at more than $6 billion in the first year of infection, and around $10 billion in the second, it is essential we have the ability to quickly respond to the disease,” Mr Thomson said.
New Zealand maintained rigorous border controls and the renewed contract to help counter an outbreak of FMD was one part of the Ministry's ongoing readiness and response initiatives aimed at ensuring New Zealand' s preparedness to combat pests or exotic diseases found in the country, he said.