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Bluetongue Disease: Copeland

Volume 487: debated on Monday 26 January 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment his Department has made of the likely effect of a bluetongue outbreak on agricultural livestock in Copeland constituency. (249465)

The symptoms of bluetongue and its potentially high mortality rate represent a significant threat to livestock welfare. Infection rates tend to be greater in cattle, but symptoms and mortality are generally more severe in sheep (studies in Europe suggest up to 30 per cent. mortality for BTV8).

No data are available on the likely effect of a bluetongue outbreak on agricultural livestock in Copeland constituency. However, we have worked in partnership with industry through the Joint Campaign Against Bluetongue to encourage vaccination, the only effective tool against bluetongue, in Cumbria and across the country.

The effects of bluetongue will be minimised in a vaccinated herd or flock. In unvaccinated livestock, given the experience in continental Europe, the effects of Bluetongue, and the economic consequences, could be significant.