News that bluetongue (BTV-8) vaccine will be available by mid-July to support farmers and smallholders in managing the risk of a possible outbreak has been welcomed by the BVA, BCVA, Goat Veterinary Society and Sheep Veterinary Society.
Since a Defra assessment indicated a high risk by late summer of a BTV-8 incursion from France, veterinary associations have been involved in discussions with the Government, farmers’ representatives and manufacturers to ensure vaccine is available to meet potential demand, particularly in south England, where risk is highest.
The situation remains under review by Defra as the disease develops and the weather warms up, promoting midge activity.
Pharmaceutical companies MSD and Zoetis have announced batches of vaccine will be available from mid-July.
Vets across the UK are also contributing to the Joint campaign Against Bluetongue (JAB), to make farmers aware of the risk, clinical signs and what action to take, through speaking at JAB information events, and displaying posters and leaflets in practices.
While welcoming the announcement of vaccine availability, veterinary organisations also sought clarification about the cost and the amount of vaccine likely to be available in July and thereafter.
BVA president Sean Wensley said: “We welcome the announcement that vaccine will be available in time to meet potential demand.
“This disease seriously affects animal health and welfare, as well as the productivity of livestock, and vaccination is the key control. While it is good news vaccine will be available, we know farmers and vets will have questions about cost and whether there will a limit to the amount of vaccine available in July. It would be helpful to have these questions clarified as soon as possible.
“We recommend farmers speak to their local vet about the benefits of vaccination, taking into account locality and individual circumstances. Farmers should not hesitate to seek advice if they have any concerns about livestock.”