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Calls for Bluetongue 'Fire Extinguisher' From NBA

29 January 2008

UK - After welcome news yesterday that tests following suspected cases of bluetongue disease in England were likely to prove negative, there remains the question of how Scotland should approach this threat, which has the potential to cause huge disruption and loss of income to the livestock industry.

The Scottish region of the National Beef Association (NBA) has made it clear to Richard Lochhead, Cabinet secretary for rural affairs, that stocks of vaccine should be ordered now.

Iain Mathers, chairman of NBA Scotland, said: "If wind-blown midges (which carry the disease] are circulating perilously close, it is no good relying on lines on the map for protection.

"If, as expected, bluetongue spreads like a scrub blaze from July onwards, Scotland will at least need a fire extinguisher immediately to hand."

However, Nigel Miller, vice-president of NFU Scotland, who is also a qualified veterinary surgeon, takes a more pragmatic line.

He said: "The ideal scenario is for having a central GB pot of vaccine – and remember it only has a shelf life of one year – for areas that might need it.

"But that door seems to have been closed by the news that Wales is ordering its own vaccine. The decision on whether Scotland needs to order its own supplies will come to a head over the next week when the UK government presents its case to Brussels."

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Source: Business Scotsman


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