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Time Is Right For BT Vaccination Roll-Out Review

07 August 2008

UK - NFU Scotland believes the time is right for the UK livestock industry to take stock of the Bluetongue vaccination programme underway in England and Wales.

Vaccination against Bluetongue started in England in early May and the vaccination zone has been expanded into Lancashire and North Yorkshire this week. It is likely that vaccine will be made available in Wales shortly. Scotland, along with the North of England remains free of disease. As designated disease-free areas, vaccine is not yet available to farmers in these areas and free movement of stock is allowed.

Scotland has a long tradition of sourcing cattle in the North of England and the May 2008 census revealed that there were more than 11,000 cattle born in Cumbria and Northumberland on Scottish farms at that time. That traditional trade with Scotland would be affected if the North of England were brought into the vaccination zone before the regular calf sales take place this autumn

NFU Scotland Vice-President Nigel Miller said: “It is in everyone’s interests that those who have access to Bluetongue vaccine commit themselves to using it if we are to eradicate this devastating disease and we welcome the commitment shown by farmers in other parts of the UK to vaccination.

“This may have already had a significant impact on the disease’s progress in the country. To date we have had no new disease in the UK this summer although several hundred new cases seen in France in the past week highlight the need for continued vigilance against Bluetongue and support for the use of vaccine.

“Should the disease situation in this country remain unchanged, we believe that the time is right for reviewing the continued roll out of vaccine in England. Under current plans, vaccine would probably become available in the North of England by the end of August. If this timetable were met, there would be significant implications for calf producers in Northumberland and Cumbria who have traditionally supplied Scottish finishers through the September and October sales.

“The current disease picture in the UK and the uptake of vaccine elsewhere in the country may justify a suspension of vaccine being rolled out into the North of England allowing them to meet a similar timetable as Scotland, where vaccination is likely to take place during the winter. This option would strike a balance between the economic considerations of trade disruption against those of necessary disease control.

“Defra’s vaccination plans for the disease-free areas are essentially an issue for it and its farmers in England. However, the implications for trade and disease control are UK-wide and it is appropriate that we all feed into this debate.”

This week Graham Davenport, of Merial, who are supplying the vaccine for the programme told The Scotsman newspaper: "Recent outbreaks in France are a reminder that there is no room for complacency. We have been working with the action group against bluetongue and strongly advocate that farmers act on its advice: 'Don't hesitate, vaccinate'."

 


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