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UK Must Cooperate With Europe on Bluetongue Surveillance

20 May 2015

UK, WALES - Strong links to European surveillance are central to government efforts in minimising the impact of Bluetongue, sheep farmers heard yesterday.

Diligent reporting and monitoring is one of the few options the industry has in getting a step ahead of vector borne diseases, according to Christianne Glossop, chief veterinary officer for Wales.

Addressing a seminar at the NSA Wales event in Powys, she told farmers that the UK receives regular updates from monthly European meetings.

“As a group of CVOs we meet on a monthly basis to discuss the disease risks out there,” said Mrs Glossop, who outlined two ways Bluetongue virus can cross national borders.

Veterinarian Peers Davies: Farms can be useful "starting point" for identifying new cases. 

Virus introduction can occur through the direct introduction of a “plume” of disease carrying midges when weather conditions allow or by infecting a live animal then exported to the UK which goes on to infect local vectors, she explained.

She called for a "strong link" with France and other countries along the channel border. "It is important to monitor cases and then have the policy in place to deal with it," she added.

“It is about cooperation with the rest of Europe.”

Veterinarian and University of Nottingham lecturer, Peers Davies, told farmers they were the “starting point” when it comes to alerting infections. 

“National government has a major role to play and surveillance is critical,” he said. “If a farmer sees symptoms they’ve never seen before, they can send it up the line.

“When we see disease on several different farms we can build up a picture of emerging diseases."

Farmers heard policy must be in place to deal with disease on varying geographical levels. This is because, aside from vaccines, there is little they can personally do onfarm to protect their own flocks.

Independent sheep consultant and sheep farmer, Catherine Nakielny, said: “At farm level, its easy to get excited about these diseases but during a recent winter vector borne diseases took priority over liver fluke and there is something you can do about fluke."

She stressed that, while testing may be unpopular for many, it benefits industry surveillance efforts.

“Getting a positive result back from your flock may be deemed as bad news but the bigger picture is that it is positive – its getting a handle on the disease.”

Michael Priestley

Michael Priestley
News Team - Editor

Mainly production and market stories on ruminants sector. Works closely with sustainability consultants at FAI Farms.

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