Bluetongue risk increasing, leaders warn

Farmers are again being urged to vaccinate their livestock against the threat of bluetongue, as the warm weather increases the risk of infection.

With summer in full swing, midge activity is reaching a peak, and the risk of a bluetongue incursion increases on a daily basis.

Livestock producers should also remain vigilant and inspect their animals on a regular basis by paying particular focus to the mucus linings of the mouth and nose, the Joint Campaign Against Bluetongue (JAB) warned.

In a statement, JAB said: “We are concerned that there has been a drop in the number of suspect cases being reported, compared to this time last year.

“It is imperative that livestock keepers monitor their stock closely and are aware of the symptoms of bluetongue. If there’s any doubt at all, farmers should inform their local animal health office or call the Defra helpline.

“The clinical signs can vary, although the symptoms are generally more severe in sheep – eye and nasal discharge, swelling of the mouth, head and neck, respiratory problems and lameness.

“Cattle sometimes show no signs of the illness, but symptoms can include conjunctivitis, swollen teats, tiredness and saliva drooling from the mouth. If livestock keepers aren’t sure about the symptoms, they can get advice from the local animal health office, local vet or the Defra website.

“It is essential that any suspect cases are reported and livestock keepers should remember that the vaccine is still available and can be ordered from their local vet. It’s vital we protect our industry from this disease, so the message remains very clear – don't hesitate, vaccinate.”

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