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Millions Of Midges To Be Trapped

25 July 2007

UK - Scientists are to collect millions of midges in the hope of stopping the spread of a virus which could wipe out herds of cattle. Outbreaks of the bluetongue virus, which can also kill flocks of sheep and other ruminants, have been recorded in Germany, France, Belgium and Holland.

The virus can be spread by some midge species

The virus is transmitted between animals by some species of midge.

The Scottish Government commissioned a £700,000 research project into the country's midge population.

Scientists believe the virus could be transferred to Scotland by continental midges.

While the immediate risk to Scotland is low it is important that Scottish livestock keepers help minimise the risk through awareness, vigilance and taking care when sourcing their stock

Richard Lochead, Rural Affairs and the Environment

A project with the Met Office is calculating on which days of the year the UK is at highest risk of midges being carried in the wind. An alternative is that infected animals could come in to the country and infect midges, which could in turn spread the virus.

The research project will be led by Dr Alison Blackwell of the University of Edinburgh-based Advanced Pest Solutions, in partnership with Aberdeen University, the Institute for Animal Health at Pirbright in Surrey and the Scottish Agricultural College.

The results from the project, which is to run over two and a half years, will support contingency planning for any outbreak of bluetongue in Scottish livestock.

Dr Blackwell said: "Bluetongue can wipe out whole herds of animals, and its economic impact can be very damaging.


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Source: BBCnews


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