An Edinburgh Napier University lecturer has won a prestigious scholarship to investigate the potential impact of an emerging livestock disease on Scottish farmers.

Mary Fraser has received the backing of animal health charity Moredun Foundation for a study seeking to assess the attitudes of farmers and smallholders towards the threat of Schmallenberg virus (SBV).

The virus, which was first recorded in the Netherlands and Germany in 2011, can lead to sheep and cattle having stillborn or deformed offspring.

Spread by midges, the disease has now travelled to the UK and has been recorded in every county in England and Wales.

Dr Fraser, who owns a smallholding in Perthshire, has created a short survey for farmers and smallholders to help understand how Scotland’s agricultural communities are preparing to deal with Schmallenberg’s potential spread north.

Dr Fraser said: “Although there have been some reported cases in Scotland the disease is not yet thought to be widespread here.

“I want to find out farmers’ views on vaccination, whether they think it is essential or if it is unnecessary. Hopefully, the results will help raise awareness of the disease and highlight the wider problems emerging viruses can cause for farmers and smallholders.”

Dr Fraser has started collecting data and is asking farmers to complete a short survey, which can be found at https://survey.napier.ac.uk/n/zzz67.aspx

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