Blue Tongue threat still hangs over UK

The worst of the FMD scare is over but Blue Tongue, which is once again rampant in mainland Europe, remains a huge threat and the UK livestock industry must be vigilant the NBA has warned.

The worst of the FMD scare is over but Blue Tongue, which is once again rampant in mainland Europe, remains a huge threat and the livestock industry must be vigilant the National Beef Association warned yesterday.

The NBA is alarmed at recent reports that officials in France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany cannot keep pace with reports of new Blue Tongue outbreaks which are coming in at more than 100 cases a day.

"One huge menace appears to be close to disappearing but another, which in terms of the long term restrictions it places on cattle and sheep movements could do just as much economic damage, has reared up again across the English Channel and the industry cannot lower its guard," explained NBA director Kim Haywood.

"Importers must be especially careful to take all precautions when delivering stock to UK customers. Every effort must be taken by lorry drivers to minimise time spent travelling through infected areas and all precautionary regulations covering insecticide use and other bio-security safeguards must be scrupulously obeyed."

She continued: "Farmers, especially those in areas where infected midges might be blown in from the Continent must also be alert when checking stock. All suspected cases must be reported and the NBA is fully behind Defra's Blue Tongue control strategy which was expected to be published yesterday.

"The UK cannot afford to let this disease become embedded in its stock because it is difficult to dislodge. On-farm vigilance has helped to minimise the damage that could have been caused by FMD now the unwelcome challenge posed by Blue Tongue has to be met as well."

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