Over the course of the last week, Great Britain has said an uncomfortable “hello” to two of its more nefarious foes, in the form of avian influenza (Suffolk) and the Schmallenberg virus (Dumfriesshire). 

Unsurprisingly, farmers in Scotland and bird keepers in England have been told to “remain vigilant” and raise any concerns with their local vet (and, in the case of bird ‘flu, the AHVLA).

However, it would be fantastic to think that these two incidents might remain anomalous. But with the weather slowly improving, we definitely can’t let our guard down. We can only hope that we don’t succeed in achieving a hat-trick of diseases for 2013 due to the re-emergence of the bluetongue virus or, God forbid, foot-and-mouth.

A news update as we near publication, though – and Defra has confirmed the strain of avian ‘flu found on the Bernard Matthews turkey farm is H9N2 – a non-notifiable disease that is believed to pose a “very low risk” to public health. Something of a relief as the infected birds can be treated with antibiotics rather than culled.

So let’s just cross our fingers and hope the summer of 2013 will offer us blue skies without the bluetongue, lush lawns without the grass sickness and… well, you get the idea!

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