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Bluetongue Helpline for Scotland

10 November 2008

SCOTLAND, UK - Information road shows and a helpline have been set up to help farmers comply with the compulsory bluetongue vaccination programme.

The Scottish Government and industry will host a series of 12 road shows the across the country to discuss the programme with farmers and answer questions.

There will also be a helpline number - 0845 155 3366 - which will offer guidance.

Farmers with specific individual questions should at first consult their vet.

Mr Lochhead said:

"The compulsory vaccination of all cattle and sheep in Scotland is the only effective way to protect our industry from this disease.


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"Bluetongue was identified in a number of premises in England, some very close to our border."
Mr Lochhead

"Farming is the lifeblood of the rural economy and of rural communities. We are doing all we can to support it through difficult times and have taken the unprecedented step of covering half of the manufacturing costs of the vaccine (£2.6 million) in the first year.

"While vaccination is the way to protect Scotland against bluetongue,, we had hoped that the work we have undertaken in strengthening import controls together with the industry sourcing livestock only from safe areas, would have avoided the need to vaccinate this year.

"But, over the summer months, bluetongue was identified in a number of premises in England, some very close to our border. With disease spreading so swiftly, it was agreed, in full cooperation with industry leaders, that there was no option but to vaccinate this winter due to the increasing risk.

"Between now and April 30, 2009, all 10 million cattle and sheep in Scotland must be vaccinated. There are, however, different strains of the virus emerging and it remains crucial that farmers remain vigilant.

"Following confirmation of BTV6 in the Netherlands, I wrote to Hilary Benn to ensure the UK sought prompt investigation into the likely source and for robust precautionary controls to be implemented. Export restrictions have been put in place for susceptible animals in the Netherlands and parts of Germany.

"Now that Scotland is a BTV8 Protection Zone, the health of the Scottish livestock industry is firmly in the hands of our farmers.

"The sudden appearance of BTV6 must surely ring alarm bells with any sensible person looking to purchase livestock and I must reiterate the need to avoid bringing in livestock from high risk areas, whatever the strain of bluetongue concerned."

Charles Milne, Scotland's Chief Vet, said:

"The launch of the BTV8 vaccination campaign is a major step forward in protecting Scottish livestock against this strain of bluetongue.

"However, we cannot now become complacent. It will be several months before a significant proportion of Scotland's livestock will be immune to BTV8. By vaccinating over the winter months in the vector free period, the risk to our livestock industry has been minimised.

"It is important to remember that the vaccine does not cross-protect against any other bluetongue strain and, as a consequence, livestock keepers must continue to source stock responsibly and avoid the risk of importing new strains."


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