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EU Set To Battle Bluetongue Virus Well Into 2008

16 November 2007

EU - Bluetongue, the viral disease that has ravaged northern Europe's cattle and sheep this year, looks set to persist well into 2008 when the only realistic weapon left to fight it will be a vaccine, farming sources say.

Spread by midges, bluetongue had previously tended to occur in more southerly parts of the European Union -- until 2006, when it moved much further north. This year has been even worse, with some 35,000 confirmed cases in at least eight countries.

The disease now seems so entrenched in central and northern EU countries -- the worst affected are Belgium, France, Germany and the Netherlands -- that it will be hard to eradicate, even with low winter temperatures to help kill the carrier midges.

"It (bluetongue) is not going away, there has been so much virus about," one official of a national farm organisation said.

"If you got a hard frost, you could get rid of it but that's an outside chance. You need low temperatures for two months and the odds of that cold happening everywhere ... make (getting rid of) it non-existent for Europe as a whole," he said.

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Source: GuardianUnlimited


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