July 16, 2008

Cattle Farmers Urged to Take Virus Precautions

Vaccinations against a virus that attacks cattle will be available for Derbyshire farmers from tomorrow.

The bluetongue protection zone, which covers more than 50 per cent of England, has been extended to include the county from midnight as a precautionary measure, the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has announced.

Animals will only be able to be moved out of the protection zone if they are vaccinated, naturally immune or going for slaughter.

Helen Woolley, East Midlands regional director of the Country Land and Business Association, said that reminder postcards would be sent to every livestock keeper in Derbyshire.

She said: "Its message is simple - Don't Hesitate, Vaccinate. We cannot stress too highly the need to protect our livestock against this devastating disease.

"Everyone must take responsibility for eliminating the threat of bluetongue in Britain, whether they keep 1,000 sheep or two."

Simon Fisher, of the National Farmers' Union, said that although there had been no cases of bluetongue confirmed as yet in England this year, the threat of "its devastating effects on our livestock industry" was still very real.

The disease, which is spread by midges, can cause loss of milk production, lameness, infertility and, in severe cases, death.

Keepers of other species, including camelids (llamas and alpacas) and farmed deer, should contact their vet for advice.

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