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Bluetongue Disease: Vaccination

Volume 495: debated on Friday 3 July 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent assessment he has made of progress in the BTV8 vaccination programme; what recent assessment he has made of the effects on veterinary practices of undertaking the programme; and if he will make a statement. (282437)

The BTV8 vaccination programme played a vital role in keeping the UK free from circulating BTV8 disease last year, with vaccination levels in the region of 60 per cent. across England.

Vaccination remains voluntary in 2009. BTV8 vaccine is readily available both from the remaining Government underwritten supply and from the three manufacturers who are supplying vaccine direct to the market.

If adequate vaccination levels are not reached this year, and BTV8 is reintroduced, the disease may spread to unvaccinated animals. Evidence suggests that the disease is still present and circulating in some neighbouring EU member states. Farmers and livestock keepers should not become complacent and should vaccinate their animals for BTV8 as soon as possible.

Veterinary practices have played and continue to play a crucial role in making vaccine available to livestock keepers and advising on best practice usage to livestock keepers to ensure that disease does not spread. In playing this crucial role veterinary practices have also had the opportunity to benefit from sales of the vaccine, and we have no evidence of widespread negative impacts on the industry.