Bluetongue Farming Today Dec 16 07(Listen Again)
Extract (warmwell transcript)
"...at present EU rules prevent farmers from moving livestock from high risk areas to low risk ones within this country, so how can cattle be imported from the continent where there have been forty thousand cases of the disease?
DEFRA told us that animals are allowed to be moved from restricted zones into free areas as long as a vet confirms that certain conditions have been met and the Animal Health Agency is given advanced warning.
Nick Blayney, president of the British Veterinary Association believes there is a dangerous loophole.
"Well, this appears to be according to the EU Contingency Plan for the Control of Exotic Disease, but I guess that when this was created they never considered this particular situation where the risk is so much higher from that Protection Zone even than from our own."So do these rules make sense to you or not?
"They don't make sense to us, and as I say, they were probably not devised with particular attention to this kind of detail. But certainly in this circumstance, our farmers are being disadvantaged but the most important thing is that we are tasking a huge and significant risk in importing animals from somebody else's protection zone where we believe the level of infection is so much greater than ours (...inaudible...) way it was tested, by what test when it was tested or seen any certification. So there are some grave concerns.."The cow didn't show symptoms.
"Indeed so. The range of symptoms of Bluetongue is very broad and most particularly, even when they've had infection, they will remain carriers, they will remain viraemic and capable of transmitting the virus for at least 50 days afterwards, for a period of time that is quite variable but quite significant."So are you saying that we shouldn't be importing any animals at all from any country that has the disease?
"It's the BVA's belief that this is a risk that at the moment this country should not be taking. We have a small window of opportunity where with proper use of vaccine we may be able to eradicate this disease. It will be a challenge but it is something we need to seriously consider. So importing any further disease seems to us to be crazy."What then can you do about it? Will you be asking for the rules to be changed?
"Well, there have been discussions but we are assured by DEFRA that we won't win that battle. But I think the important thing is that UK farmers need to recognise that just because it's legal doesn't mean it's safe or sensible. And whilst there might be a financial compulsion to purchase animals, they really are subjecting themselves and their neighbours to the risk of importing Bluetongue. Although the animal has been tested in the UK it will have remained in the country for a period of time - we don't know how long, a couple or three weeks - during which time it was capable of being bitten by a midge, and we may well have infected midges within the Middlesborough area. Thank goodness it was culled."Nick Blayney, president of the BVA.