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EU Must Work Together to Combat Schmallenberg

20 February 2012
National Farmers Union

EU - The EU must work together to develop a rapid field test to identify animals infected with the Schmallenberg virus and also a vaccine to protect vulnerable livestock, the UK's National Farming Union (NFU) has said.

NFU vice-president Gwyn Jones met with European Commission officials and farm leaders from across Europe to discuss the worrying spread of Schmallenberg at an EU Animal Health Advisory Committee in Brussels today.

Mr Jones, who is also the vice chairman of the Copa Animal Health and Welfare Group which represents all EU farming unions, said collaborative action would be essential to stamp out the disease.

“This deadly disease is spread by midges that have no respect for Member State boundaries, it is therefore important that we work together with our neighbours to share information and technology to stop its spread,” said Mr Jones.

“The number of livestock infected with the virus continues to rise – there are now nearly 800 confirmed cases across 5 countries – but we still have no on-farm test and no vaccine to protect our animals.

“In the short term we are encouraging farmers to continue to check their animals and report any suspicious symptoms to their vet, the more information available the quicker a solution can be found.

“But in the longer term the focus in the EU must be to work together to develop a field test to identify the virus rapidly and a vaccine for farmers to protect their livestock from future outbreaks.

“I have also stressed to my colleagues and EU officials the need for us to continue to communicate exactly where the disease is emerging so that we can track the trajectory and speed of its spread across Europe.”

Reacting to the trade ban already put in place by some countries outside of the EU, Mr Jones said: “The Commission must communicate to consumers both within the EU and outside that the Schmallenberg virus poses no risk to human health.”

Further Reading

- Find out more information on Schmallenberg by clicking here.

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