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Bluetongue Disease

Volume 485: debated on Tuesday 16 December 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of the likelihood of British livestock being affected by the bluetongue virus serotype (a) one and (b) six; and what discussions he has had with representatives of the live-stock related industry on the development of vaccines against each strain. (241480)

DEFRA monitors occurrence of major animal disease outbreaks worldwide as an early warning to assess the risk these events may pose to the UK. These risk assessments are published on the DEFRA website.

DEFRA is in discussion with existing manufacturers of BTV1 vaccine, and companies with BTV1 vaccine in development, to encourage applications to the Veterinary Medicines Directorate for provisional marketing authorisations (PMAs). If vaccine should be required, the early granting of PMAs will help supply to the market to be achieved more quickly. DEFRA has not placed orders for vaccine against serotypes 1 or 6. To our knowledge, there are no BTV-6 vaccines yet in development.

We have an agreed policy for controlling incursions of any new serotypes under the existing UK Bluetongue Control Strategy. This strategy was reviewed recently in light of this year's experience and to address risk from other serotypes, and was published on the DEFRA website on 1 December.

DEFRA continues to urge industry to consider the risks and check the health and vaccination status of animals when sourcing any animals, from within the UK or abroad.