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Bluetongue Vaccination: A Game of Russian Roulette

09 July 2008

UK - The National Beef Association have praise livestock keepers in the current English BTV8 Protection zone for rapidly vaccinating their livestock with the BTV8 vaccine in the fight against the spread of Blue Tongue Disease and hopes this positive action will be adopted by other farmers as the Protection Zone spreads out over the rest of England and Wales.

At June 30th, French Authorities had reported 10 new cases of BTV, nine are BTV1 and one is BTV8. It is clear Blue Tongue Virus is now re-circulating in Europe, and it is not surprising France has seen the first new cases because they are experiencing much warmer weather.

But livestock producers in England must bear in mind that Blue Tongue Virus may also now be circulating here.

Last year the Virus arrived in the UK on August 4th and wasn’t found until September 24th, 8 weeks after its arrival, so there is every indication to assume the virus will be circulating in the UK as well.

But we may not find positive animals until late July or early August by which time multiplication in the hot weather could be substantial.

Vaccination is the best tool available to livestock producers and the NBA strongly encourages all farmers to contact their vets and get their vaccine orders in now.

Because we have the virus and we have the BTV8 vaccine, so don’t hesitate and get caught out.

“We know that farmers in TB areas would give their right hands to protect themselves from the disease in exchange for so little time and money and we are certain that every farmer in a BTV8 protection zone should be thinking the same.”

And the NBA is adamant that non-vaccinators risk much more than hassle or extra management cost because a visit from BTV8 infected midges later this year could crash entire businesses.

“BTV causes extensive cow infertility and premature births and semen recovery of infected bulls may never return,” explained Ms Haywood.

“No business carrying breeding stock can afford to risk discovering infection on their farms and then finding their entire spring’s calf crop has failed”.

“On top of that surviving calves can be carriers and if finishing stock are infected as well, it will either cost a fortune in extra feed to bring them to slaughter weight or they will never recover enough to achieve their maximum value”.

“And later this year we expect that breeders looking for replacements, or store stock for feeding, will require proof of vaccination before they purchase.”

“It is obvious there are many ways farm income can be seriously, even mortally, damaged by BTV8 if there is no vaccination so anyone who chooses not to vaccinate at the first available opportunity must want to play Russian roulette with all the bullets in the chamber.”

Further Reading

- You can visit our Bluetongue information page by clicking here.

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