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Poor take-up of BT vaccination

PUBLISHED: 14:35 07 October 2008 | UPDATED: 08:27 28 March 2014

Bluetongue vaccine uptake has been as low as 50% in the livestock heartlands of South West and western England - despite a campaign urging producers to vaccinate animals, it is claimed.

Bluetongue vaccine uptake has been as low as 50% in the livestock heartlands of South West and western England – despite a campaign urging producers to vaccinate animals, it is claimed.

The JAB campaign by industry stakeholders had been calling for 90 per cent of livestock keepers to vaccinate to ensure the disease does not take hold in Britain.

Defra insists that uptake has been 70-80% nationally, but the British Cattle Veterinary Association claims the figure is considerably lower in the west of England.

It is also claimed Britain's livestock industry is being put at risk by lax controls against bluetongue abroad.

Disease inspection procedures overseas and live animal shipments to the UK are under scrutiny after bluetongue was found in sheep imported from France and cattle imported from Germany.

Andrew Praill, of the BCVA, said there was no specific requirement for animals to be tested before they were imported. The only requirement was for a standard clinical inspection that the animal was disease-free and fit to travel.

If  infected livestock escape detection overseas, it is hoped the disease would be picked up during post-import testing carried out at Defra’s insistence on all bluetongue susceptible animals arriving from continental Europe.

But Mr Praill said he would be happier if there was more proactive disease monitoring on both sides of the Channel.

He advised that any farmer or smallholder who hadn't yet done so should vaccinate immediately and think twice before importing livestock.

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