The U.S. Department of Agriculture has awarded Boehringer Ingelheim a contract to help supply a vaccine bank that will protect U.S. livestock from foot-and-mouth disease.
The contract calls for Boehringer Ingelheim to create and maintain a strategic reserve of frozen vaccine antigen concentrate that the company could quickly formulate into a vaccine for foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) in the event of an outbreak in the U.S.
The National Animal Vaccine and Veterinary Countermeasures Bank, commonly known as the U.S. vaccine bank, will let the U.S. stockpile veterinary vaccines and other materials to use in the event of an outbreak of a high-impact foreign animal disease.
FMD is a highly contagious viral disease that can affect cattle, pigs, sheep, goats and other animals with divided hooves. It does not affect people. The U.S. eradicated FMD in 1929, but an outbreak could devastate the livestock industry and, consequently, our national food supply, if left unchecked.
“Boehringer Ingelheim has proudly supported the U.S. livestock industry for decades as a leader in animal vaccine technology,” said Everett Hoekstra, President of Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health USA Inc. “Infectious animal diseases can disrupt our food supply, and governments make significant investments to help prevent and prepare for such events.”
“As a global leader in the storage and management of FMD vaccine banks, with FMD expertise dating back more than 70 years, Boehringer Ingelheim constantly monitors emerging disease threats,” said Steve Boren, Vice President of the U.S. Livestock Business at Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health.
Veterinarians, researchers and livestock leaders have long worried about the possibility of an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in the United States. Congress set aside money in the 2018 Farm Bill for the vaccine bank and other measures to guard against foreign animal disease outbreaks.
The USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is responsible for overseeing the National Animal Vaccine and Veterinary Countermeasures Bank. It has more information about its most recent steps to supply the bank here
Livestock groups applauded the announcement. Robert E. McKnight Jr., president of the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association said, “The creation of the National Animal Vaccine and Veterinary Countermeasures Bank was a cornerstone of the 2018 Farm Bill, and something cattle producer organizations across the country fought passionately to accomplish. USDA’s purchase of $27.1 million in foot-and-mouth disease vaccine — along with their ongoing efforts to keep the disease out of the country — will help ensure the safety of America’s cattle and beef supply. On behalf of the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association, I thank USDA and Marketing and Regulatory Programs Under Secretary Greg Ibach for their commitment to animal health and safety.”
The U.S. has not had an FMD outbreak since 1929. Still, recent foreign animal disease outbreaks in the U.S. of avian influenza and porcine epidemic diarrhea has focused attention on the importance of preparedness for other diseases, including FMD, for which outbreaks would have profound effects on international trade and animal health.