Warning over new climate change diseases

New parasites and endemic infections are likely to appear as climate change takes its toll on UK farming, a group of scientists have warned.

According to vet scientist Jan Van Dijk, speaking at a North West Livestock Health and Welfare conference: “There is a need for farmers to be vigilant. Signs normally associated to one disease may actually be early symptoms of another, unfamiliar disease, especially if seen outside of a normal period for infection.”

Van Dijk pointed to the fact that the arrival of bluetongue was predicted on the basis of changing climatic conditions. It was expected in the UK between 2015 and 2030, but actually arrived in 2007. In some cases, change in disease patterns is happening faster than expected.

“It can be a real problem for the farmer, as there are limited medicines for treating parasites, such as fluke for example. It may be necessary to look at physical actions, such as fencing off pasture near to watercourses and limiting contact between groups of animals to help with control.”

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