Hot Summer Forecast Brings Bluetongue Warning14 May 2009
UK - With weather forecasters predicting a hot summer, livestock producers are being urged to vaccinate against the threat of bluetongue.
Mild spring temperatures have already topped 15 degrees Celsius - a key temperature which is recognised to raise midge activity and enable the bluetongue virus to replicate. The Met Office's long-range forecast issued at the end of April indicated that this summer will be warmer than normal with rainfall near or below average.
With the risk of infection now increasing on a daily basis, the JAB campaign is encouraging farmers to vaccinate their livestock so animals are protected.
In a joint statement JAB said: "Forecasters predict the temperatures this summer could top 30 degrees Celsius - something that only happened once during 2008. All susceptible animals are under increasing risk of infection as the warmer conditions are perfect for bringing out midges and allowing the bluetongue virus to flourish.
"We know that adult midges are rapidly increasing in numbers and that they are now biting livestock. It is midges from the near Continent that will once again pose a real threat to the livestock industry in Britain so the only sensible course of action is to vaccinate. To protect our industry from this disease, the message remains very clear - "don't hesitate, vaccinate" and we urge farmers to speak with their vet as soon as possible and order the vaccine today."
Meanwhile, the remaining Government-held stock of bluetongue vaccine is now being sold off at 50 per cent discount following consultation between Defra and the JAB core group. The remaining Government stock of Merial 100ml bottles will be sold at 22p per ml, which will see prices to farmers available at around 33p-39p per ml.
JAB said: "This is a positive and necessary step for Defra to recoup some of its costs while at the same time helping to promote uptake of the vaccine. Livestock producers should take this opportunity to buy the remaining Government-held stock of vaccine at the discounted price."