Smallholders urged to vaccinate against Bluetongue

8:00am Monday 29th March 2010

BTV-8: Still out – let’s keep it out Vigilance and vaccination remains the key to keeping British livestock free from Bluetongue. This is the message from the national JAB campaign group reminding farmers to protect their animals against disease in 2010.

JAB 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 incursions.

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.

And there is 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 (the 2nd shot being a booster one month before lambing) 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.

“However 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 can not afford to rest on our laurels; vigilance and continued vaccination is key.

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