A National Anti BTV Vaccination Is Imperative

UK - All four UK governments, and the EU Commission, must quickly commit themselves to the widest possible anti-Bluetongue vaccination programme before the BTV8 strain spreads further and does even more economic and animal welfare damage.
calendar icon 25 October 2007
clock icon 2 minute read

So says the National Beef Association which notes that BTV8 has crept north into Scandinavia, is moving east towards Poland, and is spreading westwards in Britain since it first emerged in the Benelux countries last year.

“There are already more than 25,000 confirmed cases in Northern Europe, it is a disease that is spread both night and day by midges, and insecticides provide only low grade protection for as little as 24 hours,” explained the Association’s director, Kim Haywood.

“Control and protection zone lines hugely inhibit vital livestock movement, the disease itself undermines economic performance, and so the only effective control is vaccination.”

“In these circumstances the NBA has no hesitation in calling on all UK governments, and the European Commission, to commit to immediate vaccine development and to making sure there are enough doses on hand to cover the entire population of vulnerable livestock before BTV8 re-emerges among the national cattle and sheep population next summer.”

According to the NBA it is imperative that pro-vaccination moves are made immediately otherwise it will be too late.

“Manufacturers will not begin large-scale vaccine production unless the commercial risks are covered by a fully approved, cross Europe, vaccination policy but we understand that no government moves have been made to kick-start this process,” said Ms Haywood.

“There is not a moment to lose because the NBA has been advised by pharmaceutical companies that six-eight months is needed to secure a go-ahead, develop an effective vaccine, acquire the license, and organise distribution.”

“The Association has also been told that cattle would each require two prime doses of a dead, single BTV8 strain, vaccine over a very short interval followed by one booster if the national herd is to be properly protected and that the UK herd alone would require up to 30 million doses on top of what is required for sheep.”

“No-one in the UK, least of all government, can afford to be complacent. BTV8 is not a disease we should live with. Evidence suggests that livestock are hit harder in the second year of the BTV spread and both fertility and production output is badly affected.”

“There are suggestions that government is uneasy about approving a vaccination programme because it has never done so with FMD and vaccination may also disguise BTV’s spread. However the NBA has no doubt that the best form of defense against BTV is vaccination and without it the UK’s farmers will find it impossible to protect both their livelihoods and their stock,” Ms Haywood added.

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