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Bluetongue The Risk Remains

24 August 2009

UK - NFU Cymru is appealing to farmers to consider the risks and take a very cautious and sensible approach when sourcing animals onto their farm from abroad - to prevent the incursion of Bluetongue into this Summer.

Latest reports from France show, that so far in 2009, 53 farms are affected with Bluetongue and four are of the bluetongue virus one strain (BTV1), which causes great concern to Dai Davies, President of NFU Cymru.

Speaking today at Denbigh and Flint show, Mr Davies said, “Anyone considering importing susceptible livestock from abroad must consider the risk - that at the same time they could be importing disease into Wales, it is as simple as that. Whilst all farmers have the opportunity to protect their livestock against bluetongue virus eight (BTV8), there is currently no vaccine approved for use in the UK against BTV-1 which means the risk to our livestock is that much greater again.”

Mr Davies continued, “I fear that it may only be a matter of time before we hear that virus has been brought into the country. If livestock keepers are adamant that they are going to source animals from abroad, then they must ensure the health and vaccination status of the animals before importing them to the UK.”

The Welsh Assembly Government has implemented additional measures to reduce the risk of importing infection into Wales, and one requirement is for all susceptible animals to be post-import tested twice to detect all Bluetongue serotypes, a move that has been welcomed by NFU Cymru. However, Dai Davies still remains concerned and said, “Whilst these measures are in place, livestock owners still need to consider whether it is worthwhile importing animals, particularly in this period of peak midge activity.”

Mr Davies ended, “As livestock keepers we all have a duty to remain vigilant and report any suspicion of the disease to the local Animal Health Office. My message is still the same as it was 12 months ago, we can take control of this virus ourselves through vaccinating against BTV8 and careful consideration of whether we need to source animals from areas where Bluetongue is circulating.”


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