NBA bluetongue warning

Meriel's first delivery of bluetongue vaccine is now being distributed in the Protection Zone (PZ) and farming leaders are urging livestock owners to vaccinate animals as quickly as possible.

The National Beef Association (NBA) has pointed out that, within the PZ, animals may move freely, so an infected animal could be moved from Kent to Yorkshire.

"The theory that the virus is a long way away could be a very expensive mistake," said an NBA spokesperson.

"Vaccinate before the virus is found to have been circulating. Once we see it circulating, it will be well in front of us and while vaccination will help, it will be very much better done before circulation is apparent."

Although the virus would spread slowly in areas such as East Anglia, where animals are spread out, other areas such as Northern England are more densely populated by livestock and the virus could spread quickly and easily.

France is now experiencing over 1,000 cases per week and there are similar figures in Southern Germany, Holland and Belgium. The NBA said: "It will be a miracle if England does not see it this month."

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