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Email received June 4 2010 from Dr Ruth Watkins
 
BLUETONGUE
 
Dear Mary
 
The rules are being changed by the EU for the UK but will still allow animals from a protection zone to be moved to a low risk zone.  Actually we should be an uninfected zone.  But the UK would not want this as a number of farmers particularly dairy farmers of cattle goats or sheep want to import pregnant females from the EU.  If we were in an unifected zone we would not be allowed to import animals, especially pregnant animals with infected foetuses. 
 
There are many reasons why the UK livestock industry wants to import live animals and not just sperm or embryos.  The replacement of dairy cows slaughtered for bovine TB is difficult in many areas, farmers want to import expensive pedigree or continental dairy breeds, and goat dairy farming of the kind practised in Holland is fast rising in the UK.  For instance cattle dairy farms which have closed down, either because of the low price of milk or because of recurrent bovine TB have huge sheds and there is a local goat dairy farm being set up in one such by an enterprising young farmer; the price for a litre of goats milk is 47p to about 24p for cow's milk.
 
The rule I would like to see is that if pregnant animals are to be imported then they must be certified immune to BTV8 and not infected with BTV8  before they conceive the pregnancy during the course of which it is intended they will be imported.  Otherwise they must be certified non-pregnant at the time of importing and follow the current rules for this low risk zone we are being allowed to assume.
 
It is not good enough that the breed societies are urging all farmers to continue vaccination against BTV8 so pregnant animals can be imported.  With very low or absent BTV circulation on the coastal fringe of Europe, in Holland, Belgium and France there is not a risk of BTV8 coming in on a wind borne midge cloud.
 
I hope this is clear enough to be posted on your site!
 
The fact is that no one around here, including the vet, are vaccinating their animals against BTV8. 
 
yours sincerely Ruth