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Last Updated: Sunday, 23 September 2007, 09:39 GMT 10:39 UK
Reaction to bluetongue case in UK
Here is the latest reaction from politicians, farmers and experts to the news that the UK has seen its first case of bluetongue disease, in a cow on a farm near Ipswich.

The disease is spread by midges. It is passed from animal to midge, and from midge to animal, but is not transmitted from animal to animal.

STEPHEN RASH, SUFFOLK LIVESTOCK FARMER

We knew that it had been travelling through Europe for some time. It's quite rife now in Belgium and the Netherlands.

We'd rather hoped that the Channel and the North Sea were going to protect us. On top of foot-and-mouth, it's another body blow to another already struggling industry.

PETER KENDALL, NATIONAL FARMERS' UNION PRESIDENT

It's something the community has been preparing itself for but it's a real shock particularly when you consider the plight the industry is currently suffering from.

It would be nice to talk about farming in a positive light rather then always having another disaster story...

We are hoping a vaccine will be available shortly, probably in the next year or so, so if we can contain it now it need not have an enormous economic impact on UK farming...

I'm optimistic this can be quite an isolated localised case and going into winter these midges aren't as active as they would have been if this had happened two or three months ago.

PETER AINSWORTH, SHADOW ENVIRONMENT SECRETARY

News that bluetongue has reached the UK is another hammer blow for the British farming community.

Just as the farming industry seemed to be getting back on its feet, it has been hit by one disaster after another, through no fault of its own.

It is essential that the government takes all sensible measures to deal with this latest affliction.

The protection zone you have to put round a bluetongue site is much bigger than it is for foot-and-mouth and the other bad news is that it lasts much longer.

In a sense there's some comfort to be had from the fact that the restrictions for foot-and-mouth are already there so we will not get a whole lot of new stuff in terms of regulations and restrictions on movement.

But the existing ones are bad enough and having a big economic impact and bluetongue looks as though it's going to last even longer.

DAVID CATLOW, PRESIDENT OF THE BRITISH VETERINARY ASSOCIATION

There isn't a cure for it, vaccination ultimately is what we would have to do if the disease becomes established in the UK.

The aim with foot-and-mouth is to eradicate it and not have the disease at all. Bluetongue is very different, buckets of disinfectant do not stop bluetongue spreading because it is spread by the biting midge...

Culling is not part of the strategy, it's not something the public will see in the UK even if the disease becomes widespread...

At the moment if this becomes established in the UK, as it seems to have become established in northern Europe, the only way we will really control it is when we have a vaccination, and that isn't yet available.

We're possibly a year away before the development of some new, inactivated vaccines that will be the way ultimately to control it.

So at the moment, such a frightening prospect of such a serious disease, but we have no known way of really protecting animals from it.

PROF PHILIP MELLOR, INSTITUTE OF ANIMAL HEALTH, PIRBRIGHT

There are a number of things that happens when you have bluetongue virus in an area and the first one is of course movement of animals because you don't want infected animals moving out of the infected premises.

The second thing is you can use a whole series of insecticide regimes to try and control the insects.

The insects tend to fly around sunset and sunrise and throughout the night - so if it's possible the animals can be housed to, again, cut down the number of bites they may receive from potentially infected insects.

FRED LANDEG, DEPUTY CHIEF VET

It is a disease that can vary in signs: sometimes you see nothing; sometimes in sheep you get a high temperature, swollen head, difficult breathing, ulcers in the mouth and a nasal discharge.

And in some cases it can cause quite serious mortality or high death in sheep flocks.

In Europe, where this virus has been circulating - quite an extensive outbreak this season - there has been significant illness in sheep and cattle and loss of production.



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