Page last updated at 16:43 GMT, Thursday, 8 May 2008 17:43 UK

Bluetongue vaccination to start

Bluetongue protection zones in the south will be merged and extended on Monday as vaccination starts.

Vaccination is only permitted within the zones which will expand to include all of Hampshire, Berkshire, West Sussex, Lincolnshire and Oxfordshire.

Livestock keepers in the new areas will be able to obtain vaccines from Monday. The surveillance zone is unaffected.

The non-contagious virus, spread by midges, was first reported in Britain last year.

Animals can only be moved out of the zones if they are vaccinated, naturally immune or for slaughter, subject to certain conditions.

Farmers have been encouraged to order a vaccine so that they can protect their livestock at the earliest opportunity.

A report by Defra has suggested that bluetongue has not spread beyond the current protection zone boundaries.

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