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Bluetongue Disease: Vaccination

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans he has to source vaccines to combat BTV6. [233870]

Jane Kennedy: There is no vaccine currently licensed for use against Bluetongue virus serotype 6 (BTV-6) in Europe. DEFRA is in discussion with potential vaccine providers, the veterinary profession and industry stakeholders about plans for 2009.

Meanwhile DEFRA is pressing for strict control measures to contain the threat of BTV-6 and other BTV
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serotypes in the EU, and will continue to conduct post-import tests on all imported animals for all Bluetongue serotypes.

We also have an agreed policy for controlling incursions of any new serotypes under the existing Bluetongue Control Strategy, published last year, and which is being updated in the light of this year’s experience.

Bovine Tuberculosis: Vaccination

Alistair Burt: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many doses of the BTV8 vaccine the Government has bought since October 2007. [233350]

Jane Kennedy: DEFRA has placed orders for 35.5 million doses of BTV8 vaccine; 28 million for use in England and 7.5 million for Wales. The first order for 22.5 million doses was placed on 1 November 2007 with a further 13 million doses ordered on 11 June 2008. In keeping with the principles set out in the Bluetongue vaccination plan, livestock keepers in the protection zone can purchase vaccine through their private vets. BTV8 vaccine has been available since May 2008.

Alistair Burt: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the take-up rate of the BTV8 vaccine has been in the last 12 months. [233351]

Jane Kennedy: Vaccination against Bluetongue in England and Wales is voluntary, and delivered through existing veterinary medicine supply chains, an approach agreed with the livestock industry to ensure the simple, rapid roll-out of vaccine to protect animals earlier this year. Because the approach to vaccination is voluntary, no definitive figures can be provided on the numbers of livestock actually vaccinated.

However, to date, sales data from the supply chain suggests the overall uptake of vaccine across the whole of England is around 60 per cent. Initial vaccine uptake was high—reaching between 80 per cent. and 90 per cent. in the South East and East of England, but uptake in the counties of northern England and in Wales has been lower.


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Alistair Burt: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether he plans to sell unused BTV8 vaccines held by his Department before their expiration date. [233352]

Jane Kennedy: Vaccination against Bluetongue in England and Wales is voluntary, and delivered through existing veterinary medicine supply chains, an approach agreed earlier this year with the livestock industry to ensure the simple, rapid roll-out of vaccine to protect animals. Supplies of vaccine are still available to farmers who have not yet vaccinated this year; they are advised to contact their private vet to place orders.

The 2009 vaccination strategy for Bluetongue serotype eight is currently being discussed with stakeholders. This includes consideration of the role the existing surplus can play in meeting future demand before the vaccine expires. Further details will be announced following these discussions with the expectation that the vaccination plan will be published by December of this year. This will be made available on the DEFRA website.