Eastern Region farmers keep UK free of bluetongueEastern region farmers' swift and sustained action over the bluetongue virus last year helped to ensure that the rest of Britain remained almost free of the disease.
"Being closest to the Continent from which the disease would have come, our farmers acted responsibly and huge credit should be given to them for vaccinating their stock," says Tim Isaac, CLA eastern region director. "Vaccine uptake was exceptionally high, reaching between 80% and 90% according to Defra. The same was true in the South of England."
The report comes from the JAB, the Joint Campaign Against Bluetongue of which the CLA is a member. "The actions of farmers in the east and south ensured the UK was free from circulating the disease," says Mr Isaac, but he warns "There is no room for complacency though.
"Neither can we rely upon the much colder winter to combat the midge, which carries bluetongue. It will be active in the spring and summer nonetheless and this presents a serious increase in the risk of wind borne incursion or through the legal trade in animals.
"Despite the success last year, if adequate vaccination levels are not reached this year the disease will spread through these midges to unvaccinated animals."
Mr Isaac says that it takes three weeks for immunity to be established after vaccination and so livestock keepers need to start vaccinating now to ensure immunity is established in flocks and herds before the onset of the risk period. Farmers should order vaccine from their vets as soon as possible.
"The BTV8 (bluetongue) zone is moving relentlessly northwards," says Mr Isaac. "It was found in Denmark in 2008 (on a line with Newcastle in the UK) and has now emerged in Norway. Defra post-import tests all bluetongue susceptible animals – but has no plans to impose a ban on imports of susceptible livestock."
For further information:
Tim Isaac, deputy regional director CLA 01284 789201 or 07702 928860
Sally Smith, CLA PR 01553 764422 or 07729 448046
CLA Eastern Region comprises the counties of Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Norfolk and Suffolk.
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Tim has a degree in agriculture and is a qualified Rural Surveyor, specialising in farm and estate management. He lives on his family's farm in Essex. Tim advises and represents members on business management and lobbies all levels of government on key rural issues.
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