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Stackyard News Sep 06

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Call For Scab Action As Survey Highlights Disease Threat

An all-industry group, supported by the Scottish Executive, has urged farmers to be on their guard against sheep scab over the next few weeks.

Dipping with an OP is the gold standard scab control system.

Dipping with an OP is the gold standard scab control system.

The traditional autumn movements of sheep onto farms increase the risk of outbreaks. The warning from the Scottish Sheep Scab Initiative comes as results from a nationwide survey emphasise the threat posed by scab.

A recent survey by the Scottish Executive has recorded hundreds of sheep scab outbreaks across Scotland in the last five years. The 4520 farmers that responded to the survey reported 666 scab cases (see notes for regional breakdown). Of those that had scab, three-quarters knew the route of infection with the two most common causes being new stock coming on to farm and contact with infected sheep on neighbouring farms.

With new sheep being introduced on farms across the country following Autumn sales, the Scottish Sheep Scab Initiative is urging producers to isolate and treat animals accordingly, with a specific action period between September 20 and November 10.

The Initiative has been co-ordinated by NFU Scotland for the last three years and comprises agricultural organisations, government representatives, auction marts, vets and pharmaceutical companies. Discussions are now ongoing with the Executive to build upon this work. The survey revealed farmers’ support for a co-ordinated response to sheep scab, including the possible reintroduction of compulsory treatment. Chairman of the Initiative is Nigel Miller, who also chairs the NFUS Livestock Committee. He said:

“This is one of the most comprehensive animal disease surveys undertaken and it highlights that scab is a very real threat in every part of the country. The next few weeks is a specific action period because of the increased threat of sheep scab spreading into flocks as new animals come onto farm.

“I was encouraged to see that over 80 per cent of farmers isolate new stock coming on farms, but I would urge everyone to take that step as a matter of routine. Preferably, scab should be treated, either by injecting or dipping, within 48 hours of arrival and new animals kept separately for four weeks to allow treatments to take effect. The message from the survey is clear - if you don’t take these steps, it is a matter of time before the disease reaches you.

“It is also important that farmers work together during the action period as co-ordinated treatment in local areas can prevent re-infection.

“96 per cent of farmers who responded to the survey said they knew where to go for advice and help on scab and all those involved in the Sheep Scab Initiative can take some credit for that. Successful disease strategy relies on a partnership between government and industry and we are working closely with the Executive take the work on sheep scab forward.”

link Sheep Scab Eradication - Producers Must Act Now!
link Photosensitisation Survey To Track Sheep Illness
link Bluetongue virus in the Netherlands identified as serotype 8 by IAH

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