Farm­ers be­ware as blue­tongue is found

The Oban Times - - FARMING -

FARM­ERS in Scot­land should re­main watch­ful for signs of blue­tongue virus fol­low­ing the de­tec­tion of the con­di­tion in post-im­port checks in a num­ber of cat­tle from France.

The An­i­mal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) suc­cess­fully picked up the in­fected an­i­mals through the post-im­port test­ing regime.

The Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment said ac­tion was be­ing taken to en­sure there was no spread of the dis­ease. A spokesper­son said: ‘APHA is work­ing closely with the live­stock keepers af­fected to en­sure that swift ac­tion is taken to pre­vent spread of the dis­ease, with move­ment re­stric­tions at af­fected premises, tar­geted sur­veil­lance and the hu­mane culling of an­i­mals where nec­es­sary.’

Chief vet­eri­nary of­fi­cer for Scot­land Sheila Voas said: ‘Blue­tongue does not pose a threat to hu­man health or food safety, but can have a se­vere im­pact on af­fected farms.

‘A to­tal of 10 an­i­mals were im­ported from the same as­sem­bly cen­tre in France – an area where mul­ti­ple cases of blue­tongue have been con­firmed in re­cent times – and we are work­ing closely with af­fected farms and stake­hold­ers to con­tain the virus.

‘While I am pleased that our ro­bust dis­ease sur­veil­lance pro­ce­dures have worked, the iden­ti­fi­ca­tion of­fers a timely re­minder to farm­ers for the need to re­main vig­i­lant and of the risks of im­port­ing an­i­mals from dis­ease-af­fected ar­eas into their herds.’

NFU Scot­land pres­i­dent An­drew McCor­nick added: ‘The dis­cov­ery of blue­tongue in im­ported cat­tle is a real con­cern for Scot­tish live­stock keepers and un­der­lines the need for vig­i­lance, re­spon­si­ble sourc­ing and ap­pro­pri­ate sup­port and re­sources be­ing di­rected to our vet­eri­nary sur­veil­lance sys­tem to mon­i­tor and stamp out the dis­ease as soon as pos­si­ble.

‘BTV8 virus has been spread­ing in France for some time. It was un­likely that the midge­borne in­fec­tion would reach Scot­land this year and that im­por­ta­tion al­ways pre­sented the great­est risk. In that re­gard, our sur­veil­lance sys­tems have proven ro­bust but the re­al­ity is that in­fected an­i­mals ar­rived in the coun­try.

‘Blue­tongue is a no­ti­fi­able dis­ease and I re­mind all Scot­tish live­stock keepers to seek vet­eri­nary ad­vice on the dis­ease and that sus­pected cases must be re­ported im­me­di­ately to the di­vi­sional vet­eri­nary man­ager at the lo­cal An­i­mal and Plant Health Of­fice.’

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