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Farmers Braced For Bluetongue To Escalate Into An Outbreak

27 September 2007

UK - Farmers’ leaders are convinced that Britain is facing a full-blown outbreak of the bluetongue virus.
Even though there have been only four confirmed cases in cattle in Suffolk – on farms 50 miles (80km) apart – senior industry figures now believe that increased testing of animals will establish that the midge-borne disease is circulating in England. It may take several days but there is resignation that this will become an official outbreak.

The disease affects cattle, sheep, deer and goats. There is no threat to pigs or poultry and no threat to human health. Scientific experts insist that there is still no evidence that the virus is live in the area and nothing to prove that it has infected the midge population. While this situation exists, there is something of a reprieve for farmers in neighbouring counties.

As soon as Debby Reynolds, the Chief Vet, decides to declare an outbreak, there will be restrictions on animal movements in a 93-mile radius of infected premises. This will take in Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire, Leices-tershire, Cambridgeshire, Northamp-tonshire and Bedfordshire as well as the higher-risk areas of Norfolk, Essex and Suffolk. Kent could also be drawn into the surveillance area.

No export trade will then be allowed to the Continent for 120 days after the last case. For exports to blue-tongue-free countries a ban will be in place for two years after the last case or one year after the last vaccination.

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Source: Times Online


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