British livestock at risk from deadly bluetongue virus, scientists warn

UK - Scientists warned last night that Britain is on the verge of a major new farmyard catastrophe with a disease called bluetongue that has ravaged mainland Europe and is poised to arrive in this country for the first time.
calendar icon 12 August 2007
clock icon 1 minute read
They said that the deadly virus – which is spread by midges that have been able to expand further northwards thanks to climate change – originated in Africa and has killed 1.8 million animals since it first appeared in Europe in 1998.

Sheep are worst hit by the disease, with other livestock such as goats and cattle tending to act as carriers rather than becoming ill. With the virus now in easy reach of Britain, it is only a matter of time before we can expect to get the warm weather and easterly winds that could provide a perfect route for midges to arrive and infect livestock.

Britain is at real risk from the disease, according to Professor Peter Mertens, head of arbovirus research at the Government's Institute for Animal Health (IAH) in Pirbright, Surrey. "We have all the elements for an outbreak. It's a serious worry. All it needs is the match to light the fire. The arrival of the virus, in terms of a single infected midge, all it takes is a breeze in the right direction or an imported animal that is infected," he warns.

Source: Independant on Sunday
© 2000 - 2024 - Global Ag Media. All Rights Reserved | No part of this site may be reproduced without permission.