Active bluetongue virus could be lurking undiscovered anywhere in Europe or GB - and the only sure form of protection is to vaccinate all vulnerable domestic animals and make sure the disease-free status of imported stock is backed by an official veterinary certificate confirming when vaccination took place.
This is the urgent message to the livestock industry from the National Beef Association following corroboration earlier today from Defra that eight out of a batch of 20 bulling heifers imported by an agent into Devon more than a week ago have tested positive to BTV8.
“These animals were sourced from an area in Germany which has still to report circulating BTV8 virus in 2008 and scientists in the UK are increasingly certain that bluetongue is already moving inside Great Britain too,” warned NBA vice-chairman, Frank Momber.
“If importers must bring in stock they should not accept word of mouth affirmation from suppliers that the animals carry no bluetongue risk and protect their reputations, and their own cattle, by insisting on a vaccination certificate that has been signed by a vet.”
“France has already declared that BTV8 is endemic this summer but it is alarming that no cases from the region in Germany where these imported heifers originated have been picked up by the authorities or reported by farmers.”
“The first of last year’s bluetongue cases was not confirmed in Britain until late September and there is a huge danger that many livestock farmers have been lulled into complacency, and delayed vaccination, because new disease has still to be reported here in 2008.”
“This morning’s news from Defra is a massive wake up call. Farmers who want to protect unvaccinated animals should begin injecting at once. There should be no delay because no one has any idea yet, where the virus is and when it will emerge,” Mr Momber added.
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