Disease misery continues for farmers

01 October, 2007

Eight cases of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) have now been confirmed in Surrey and cattle on a further four farms to be slaughtered on suspicion of the disease.

Eight cases of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) have now been confirmed in Surrey and cattle on a further four farms are to be slaughtered on suspicion of the disease. Defra said the cattle had been exposed to infection of FMD to such a degree that they were likely to develop disease.

Animal keepers have been reminded that it is vital they are vigilant for any signs of disease and continue to check animals twice a day.

In East Anglia, as of Friday, there are five confirmed cases of Bluetongue. Sources suggest there are now 11 cases, but Defra is refusing to confirm this. All the animals have been culled.

Deputy chief vet Fred Landeg said test results had shown the disease, which is transmitted by biting midges, was circulating among livestock.

Landeg said at a news conference that laboratory results and further cases of bluetongue disease in Suffolk indicated Bluetongue was circulating in the animal and the midge populations in the county. "We had a meeting of our Bluetongue expert group, and taking that advice and given the recent experience in northern Europe, I can now confirm we do have bluetongue virus circulating in this country."

He said: "Bluetongue is spread via midge vectors, rather than animal to animal. This means animals infected with Bluetongue will not be compulsorily slaughtered from now on. There is no vaccine currently available, however we will consider vaccination in the event that a suitable authorised inactivated vaccine becomes available."

Defra said in line with the UK Bluetongue Control Strategy and European law, a 20km Control Zone is being put in place around the area in East Anglia where cases have been identified to date.

Ruminant animals will be able to move within the Bluetongue Control Zone, but not out of it, except to slaughter in the Bluetongue Protection Zone.

In addition, a 150km Bluetongue Protection Zone covering parts of the counties from Lincolnshire to Sussex will be put in place. Ruminant animals will be able to move within the Bluetongue Protection Zone but not out of it.

These Bluetongue zones will replace the Bluetongue Temporary Control Area set up on 25 September.

Secretary of State for Defra, Hilary Benn said: "This is clearly very bad news for the farming industry. Our priority is to do everything we can to contain this outbreak which is why we already had in place precautionary restrictions and have today announced further measures. We are determined to continue to work closely with the farming industry and the farmers affected for whom this is a very difficult time."





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