Vets welcome bluetongue vaccine announcements

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has announced that bluetongue (BTV-8) vaccine is now available from two pharmaceutical retailers to manage the risk of a BTV incursion.

At the start of June, the British Veterinary Association (BVA), British Cattle Veterinary Association (BCVA), Goat Veterinary Society (GVS), and Sheep Veterinary Society (SVS) welcomed the announcement that bluetongue (BTV-8) vaccine would be available by mid-July to support farmers and smallholders in managing the risk of a bluetongue outbreak predicted to reach mainland UK by late summer.

Since the Defra risk assessment indicates a high risk by late summer of a BTV incursion from France, veterinary associations have been involved in discussions with government, farmers’ representatives and manufacturers to ensure vaccine is available to meet potential demand particularly in the south of England where risk is highest. The situation remains under constant review by Defra as the disease develops and the weather warms up, promoting midge activity.

Pharmaceutical companies MSD and Zoetis announced that batches of vaccine would be available from mid-July, which Defra has just confirmed.

Vets across the UK are also contributing to the Joint campaign Against Bluetongue (JAB), helping to make farmers aware of the risk, clinical signs and what action to take, through speaking at local JAB information events and displaying posters and leaflets in practices.

While welcoming the announcement of vaccine availability in June, veterinary organisations also sought clarification about the cost and the amount of vaccine likely to be available in July and thereafter. This information is now available.

BVA President Sean Wensley said:
“We welcome the announcement that vaccine will be available in time to meet potential demand. This disease seriously affects animal health and welfare as well as the productivity of livestock, and vaccination is the key control. We recommend farmers speak to their local vet about the benefits of vaccination, taking into account their locality and individual circumstances. Farmers should not hesitate to seek advice if they have any concerns about their livestock.”

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