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email received from Sabine Zentis 15th December 2007 about the imported cow found to be infected with Bluetongue in Middlesborough

Dear Mary

This unfortunate animal is an example of the fact that so far no one has understood the real problems with BT.

I am sure the blood test done on this animal prior to export would have returned a negative result. But as always, between sampling and export there are approximately 10 days and during this time a lot can happen.

You just can't protect animals from being bitten by a midge ( unless you put them in your freezer) and with regard to the vector free period, for Germany the Government has declared there will be no vector free period this year.

The vector surveillance still shows Culicoides activity above the limit of 5 females/trap/night. The experience has shown that the use of insecticides and repellants gives only very limited protection and it is very clear that these products are not licensed to protect against BT vectors.

When Rudy Meiswinkel spoke about biting activities of different Culicoides species it was obvious that a pour on, applied to the back of an animal, won't give protection against midges ( prefering i.e. the lower parts of the legs of an animal to take their blood meal.)

People should get real; the only way animals can be moved safely is either to buy a vaccinated animal or an animal that tested positive for antibodies but negative for the virus.

As to the culling of the animal, I think this is a political measure to calm farmers down. Whether it has any impact on the spread of BT has to be seen next year. Very sadly, midges carrying the virus and capable of transmission don't wear signs or change colour so no one can really know for sure whether the damage has already been done. Maybe the cow has to die in vain, maybe her death will save other animals from contracting BT. A very sad situation, just because people haven't done their homework on Bluetongue



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Sabine Zentis
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52385 Nideggen