Farmers warned against bluetongue return

Livestock farmers are being urged by the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) to talk to their vets, as the industry braces itself for a potential return of bluetongue disease. 

The midge-borne disease has been circulating in France since last summer, and the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has confirmed there is an 80% risk of it reaching the UK by September this year.

NFU livestock board chairman Charles Sercombe said: “There is quite strong evidence that bluetongue could move to southern parts of the UK by late summer – not dissimilar to the way it moved into East Anglia back in 2007.

“As livestock farmers we should be talking to our vets now about the disease and considering our business options, including vaccination which would be a voluntary, protective measure.

“It’s also imperative that we all remain vigilant and look out for any signs of bluetongue and report any suspicions to our vets immediately. The health and welfare of the herd or flock should remain a top priority.”

There is currently no vaccine available for UK farmers, but the NFU is working with Defra and industry to secure vaccine stocks.

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