Farmers urged to be vigilant on bluetongue

Vigilance and vaccination remains the key to keeping British livestock free from bluetongue in 2010, farmers are being urged.

The JAB campaign group is issuing a reminder to farmers and livestock keepers to vaccinate their animals against the disease, which is still causing major problems across Europe and, as a result, farmers in England and Wales still face a very real threat of potential outbreaks.

A second year free from bluetongue outbreaks is needed to see the UK declared disease-free and farmers are being urged to keep up their guard and continue with vaccination as part of their regular flock or herd plan.

The group said there was also good news, with
new research from the Institute for Animal Health showing that, for the first time, lambs born to ewes that have been vaccinated twice against BT8 are protected against the disease for at least 14 weeks – the age at which many lambs go for slaughter.

In a joint statement JAB said: “We are proud of our success so far in keeping this disease at bay. We are hopeful that, with continued vaccination and vigilance, we can keep bluetongue out of the country. However, there is no room for complacency. Now is the time to ensure cattle and sheep are protected, as an outbreak of bluetongue can have a potentially devastating impact on the economic viability of a livestock farm.

“The disease is still prevalent in Europe, with more than 700 cases reported last year. Anyone importing animals needs to double-check the health and vaccination status of their livestock to ensure we keep the disease out. We cannot afford to rest on our laurels; vigilance and continued vaccination are key."