With just three weeks to go before the first anniversary of bluetongue being detected in England, the JAB campaign group is urging farmers to vaccinate their livestock to stop the disease from taking hold in this country as it has in Europe.
So far this year, France has reported 4,543 cases of bluetongue, including cases in Calais, and the Netherlands has just confirmed its first case of the disease in 2008. The affected smallholding reported a sick cow, found with serotype eight, which had not been vaccinated against infection.
With the threat of bluetongue re-emergence in the UK growing by the day, JAB leaders have issued a reminder to farmers to contact their vets as soon as their region is in the protection zone and vaccine is available.
In a statement, JAB said: "The amount of cases being reported across Europe shows the disease is on the move. This most recent case in Holland demonstrates that not vaccinating livestock leaves farmers vulnerable to outbreaks now the midge season has started.
"The industry has rallied behind the JAB campaign and has done tremendously well in terms of vaccination. Nearly 19 million doses have already been made available to English farmers and, with another nine million doses planned to be released in the coming weeks, we need those areas that are new to the protection zone to vaccinate as soon as they are able. We must remember bluetongue could already be circulating in areas where outbreaks occurred last year, so the risks to everyone are very real.
"The explosion in the number of cases on the Continent also acts as a timely reminder to those farmers in the current protection zone who have not vaccinated and the dangers this presents to their unprotected livestock.
"We are entering the peak period for midge activity, so vaccination is the only way to prepare and protect us from any potential outbreaks that may emerge in the coming weeks."