13 Aug 2018
Immunity has been defined as ‘a condition of being able to resist a particular disease especially through preventing development of a pathogenic microorganism or by counteracting the effects of its products’, or in simpler terms it is ‘the power to resist infection whether natural (innate) or acquired (as by vaccination)’ (Merriam Webster, 2017).
A strong powerful immunity is therefore crucial to maintain health in our current animal production, where
multiple types of pathogens are continually challenging the health, welfare and productivity of our animals. As
Webster’s dictionary implies, vaccinations play a great role in optimizing the animal’s power to resist disease.
Vaccination is the administration of antigenic material (a vaccine) to stimulate an individual’s immune system to develop adaptive immunity to a pathogen. The vaccine contains either inactivated or attenuated forms of the pathogens, or purified highly immunogenic components of the pathogen. On a population basis, vaccinations have led to the eradication and control of many animal and zoonotic diseases.
Vaccines are indispensable tools to prevent potentially dangerous infectious diseases and to maintain animal welfare and the productivity of animal production. Vaccine use within disease prevention and eradication programmes has optimized animal production, health and welfare, and contributed to a highly efficient production system. A good knowledge of the immune system, disease situation, productivity and goals of the farm are necessary to set up a successful vaccination programme, and the farm veterinarian has a big role to play in developing, executing and monitoring the programme.
The aim of this white paper is to create a better understanding of the role of immunity and vaccinations for the maintenance of good herd or flock health and productivity and for a more sustainable animal production with minimal negative environmental impact. The white paper gives important examples of how vaccines can generate a return on investment, minimize environmental impacts, and achieve other productivity goals so as to create an understanding that vaccination is an essential tool for all farmers in order to optimize the herd/flock’s capability to resist infection.
This paper is not intended to cover every single disease and vaccination program, but to use some good examples of the value of vaccination in our ruminant production systems.