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Bluetongue Disease: Vaccination

Volume 486: debated on Tuesday 13 January 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what quantities of vaccine for the (a) BTV1 and (b) BTV6 strains of bluetongue disease are (i) available and (ii) on order. (242075)

No vaccines against Bluetongue serotypes 1 or 6 are currently authorised for use in the UK.

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 also 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.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the success rate of bluetongue vaccination in Gloucestershire was; how many strains of bluetongue virus have been identified; what evidence there is on the origin of each strain; and if he will make a statement. (244412)

Bluetongue is caused by a virus within the Orbivirus genus of the family Reorvirades. At present 24 distinct serotypes have been identified as a result of serum neutralisation tests.

Bluetongue was first described in South Africa but has since been recognised in most countries in the tropics and sub-tropics. Since 1999 there have been widespread outbreaks of Bluetongue in Greece, Italy, Corsica (France) and the Balearic Islands (Spain). Cases also occurred in Europe in Bulgaria, Croatia, Macedonia, Kosovo and Yugoslavia. These cases have been well north and west of the disease's previous normal distribution. It appears that the virus has spread from both Turkey and North Africa.

Bluetongue serotype 8 (BTV-8) was first found in Western Europe when it was detected in the Netherlands in summer 2006, after which it spread to Belgium, Luxembourg, Western Germany and parts of North East France in the same year. In 2007, Northern Europe experienced a dramatic increase of new cases in all existing infected areas, and cases numbered into the many tens of thousands as disease steadily spread across Europe.

Uptake of vaccine has varied by region in England and Wales and over time. Sales data from the supply chain suggests that enough vaccine has been sold across the whole of England in 2008 to vaccinate around 60 per cent. of susceptible animals. However, we cannot give accurate county specific data.