Bluetongue free status regained

The perseverance and diligence shown by Great Britain’s livestock farmers and other industry stakeholders have seen the country regains its Bluetongue-free status.

Bluetongue (BTV), a devastating viral disease that affects both cattle and sheep, infected parts of South East England in August 2007 following a major disease outbreak in mainland Europe. Scotland has remained free of the disease and undertook a Scottish Government-supported vaccination programme in 2008 to protect stock from the midge-borne virus.

It had been hoped that Scotland, as well as England and Wales, could move to BTV free status but still retain the option to vaccinate were the disease risk status to change.

“However, the decision to change the rules to accommodate free status and vaccination has been delayed in Europe.

“Given the decline in the disease risk across Europe, NFU Scotland is in agreement that the time is right to move to BTV free status without waiting for the option to allow vaccination in a free region. That decision means vaccination in the UK must stop from July 5.

NFU Scotland President Nigel Miller said: “It is a tribute to the commitment and due diligence of all livestock stakeholders in Scotland that the country’s cattle and sheep remain free of this devastating disease. That hard work has been rewarded with a return to disease-free status without a single case being recorded.

“Looking ahead, it would be a huge blow were any reckless behaviour to undermine what has been a great industry effort.”