Farmers beware as bluetongue found

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Farmers in Scotland should remain watchful for signs of bluetongue virus following the detection of the condition in post-import checks in a number of cattle from France.

The Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) successfully picked up the infected animals through the post-import testing regime.

The Scottish Government said action is being taken to ensure there is no spread of the disease. As spokesperson said: ‘APHA is working closely with the livestock keepers affected to ensure that swift action is taken to prevent spread of the disease, with movement restrictions at affected premises, targeted surveillance and the humane culling of animals where necessary.’

Chief veterinary officer for Scotland Sheila Voas said: ‘Bluetongue does not pose a threat to human health or food safety, but can have a severe impact on affected farms.

‘A total of 10 animals were imported from the same assembly centre in France – an area where multiple cases of bluetongue have been confirmed in recent times – and we are working closely with affected farms and stakeholders to contain the virus.

‘While I am pleased that our robust disease surveillance procedures have worked, the identification offers a timely reminder to farmers for the need to remain vigilant and of the risks of importing animals from disease-affected areas into their herds.’

NFU Scotland president Andrew McCornick added: ‘The discovery of bluetongue in imported cattle is a real concern for Scottish livestock keepers and underlines the need for vigilance, responsible sourcing and appropriate support and resources being directed to our veterinary surveillance system to monitor and stamp out the disease as soon as possible.

‘BTV8 virus has been spreading in France for some time. It was unlikely that midge-borne infection would reach Scotland this year and that importation always presented the greatest risk. In that regard, our surveillance systems have proven robust but the reality is that infected animals arrived in the country.

‘Bluetongue is a notifiable disease and I remind all Scottish livestock keepers to seek veterinary advice on the disease and that suspected cases must be reported immediately to the divisional veterinary manager at the local Animal Plant Health Office.

‘The risks presented by importing animals from affected areas, even when all rules are believed to have been followed, are now all too apparent. As a result, Scottish livestock keepers must now remind themselves of the symptoms of BTV8 in cattle and sheep and keep a very close watch on their stock in the weeks ahead.’