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First Cattle Get Their Vaccine Jab

01 May 2008

UK - Cattle at Bixley Farms in Norfolk were today (1 May) the first animals in the country to be vaccinated against Bluetongue serotype 8 as over one million doses are delivered for animals in the Protection Zone on the first day of the vaccine roll-out.

Intervet, the animal health company behind this new vaccine, isolated the Bluetongue serotype 8 virus in September 2006, soon after the first European outbreak, and started an emergency programme to develop a suitable vaccine. The vaccine has gone from research & development to full-scale production in a record-breaking 20 months rather than the usual five to ten years and its delivery is ahead of schedule.

Under EU law, vaccination is only allowed in a Protection Zone and Defra's vaccination roll-out plan sets out how the vaccine will be distributed to ensure that those livestock most at risk are the first to receive it.

Defra awarded the vaccine tender to Intervet in December after a three-way bid. The company was chosen on the strength of the vaccine's technical credentials, the fact that it requires only one dose for sheep, the speed at which the vaccine could be manufactured and a price point that would encourage maximum uptake by the agricultural community.

David Hallas, general manager from Intervet UK, part of Schering-Plough, comments: "Since Defra placed its order for 22.5 million doses, we have been working around the clock to provide a vaccine to help fight this devastating disease. It is a testament to all those involved at Intervet, Defra and the regulatory authorities that we are ahead of schedule in releasing the vaccine and will be able to help the farming community protect livestock in time for the peak midge season. More doses of the vaccine will be delivered over the next few weeks and months and we expect to complete the Defra order by August."

Tim Cane, farm manager at Bixley Farms, comments: "Bluetongue is a particularly horrific disease and whether you are a smallholder with a few animals or a farmer with a large commercial enterprise it's our duty to ensure that as many sheep and cattle in the protection zone as possible are vaccinated to help prevent the disease from spreading."

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