Scotland’s livestock farmers can now complete plans for protecting their stock against bluetongue (BT) disease following the announcement from Scottish Government that the compulsory vaccination programme will start on Monday, 3 November 2008.
From that date, all cattle and sheep in Scotland of three months of age and older will legally require vaccination against strain 8 of the bluetongue virus (BTV8). Vaccination should be completed no later than 30 April 2009. Other susceptible species, such as goats, deer and llamas should be vaccinated on a voluntary basis. In total, around seven million animals will require vaccination in this six-month window. The dates reflect the time of year when low temperatures mean that the activity of the virus, and the midges responsible for transmitting it, is at its lowest.
From 30 April 2009, there will be an ongoing need to vaccinate newly born animals and a programme of annual boosters given to animals previously vaccinated against BTV8 to preserve their immunity.
Once vaccination starts, Scotland will lose its disease-free status and be declared a Protection Zone (PZ). This will bring restrictions on the live export of stock from Scotland to countries still free of the disease while at the same time allowing freer movement of bluetongue-susceptible animals between Scotland and any other BTV8 zone.
Activating Scotland’s BT vaccination strategy will commit farmers to annual vaccination against BT for the foreseeable future.
NFU Scotland President, Jim McLaren said:
“The road ahead for Scottish producers to protect their livestock from the devastating affects of bluetongue disease has now been mapped out. By initiating vaccination in Scotland, we are committing ourselves to using vaccine for the long term.
“While disappointed that the disease situation has brought us to this, we accept that vaccination should go ahead this winter and beyond. NFU Scotland, Scottish Government and other stakeholders now have to co-ordinate our efforts to ensure the vaccine roll-out in Scotland goes as smoothly as possible and that livestock producers have all the necessary information on vaccination at their disposal.
“The initial six month window in which stock will require to be vaccinated gives the necessary flexibility to allow producers to plan vaccination around normal farming practices such as winter housing, annual gatherings, lambing time and the like. Some exemptions for animals going to slaughter are possible. Vaccine will be available through a farmer’s local veterinary practice and it will be worth a producer discussing their vaccine requirements with their vet before deciding the size and timing of their delivery.
“It is important that Scotland gets this right. The voluntary uptake of vaccine in some parts of the UK is disappointing and two strains of the disease are now running rife in Europe. Unfortunately, there is a very real danger of BT persisting south of the Border and in parts of Europe for some years to come.
“In addition, the risk of infected animals arriving in Scotland will increase with our decision to vaccinate. This will free up movements of stock between Scotland and areas of a similar BT status. There is absolutely no room for complacency. Scotland needs a period of time to get its disease immunity in place and those who import animals from Europe into Scotland in the first few months of our campaign will threaten that. The disease is raging in Europe and control strategies are not working. Imported animals can not be guaranteed free of disease and imports of susceptible livestock should be voluntarily suspended until Scotland has properly protect its stock.”
New NML Johne's Disease Screening Programme
Organic Acids Vital in Fight to Control Salmonella
Sourcing Sheep and Cattle from the Blue Tongue Free Area