Page last updated at 09:08 GMT, Friday, 23 May 2008 10:08 UK

Bluetongue vaccine made available

Sheep with bluetongue
A million doses of bluetongue vaccine will be available in June

Farmers in parts of Wales are being urged to vaccinate livestock against the Bluetongue virus from next month.

Vaccinations will be available when an area of south east Wales becomes the first Welsh bluetongue protection zone.

The Rural Affairs Minister says a million doses of the vaccine will be available in the first batch.

The disease is spread by a species of midge and can be fatal to animals such as sheep and cows.

A bluetongue movement restriction zone was imposed on 11 south east Wales local authority areas in February, in a bid to prevent the spread of the virus.

The restriction zone will now be designated as a protection zone, which means that vaccinations can be issued under European livestock rules.

"The vaccine is the best defence we have against this disease," said the rural affairs minister.

"We must take full advantage of it and I would urge those in the zone to vaccinate their livestock."

Farmers have also been warned that once the protection zone is put in place on 2 June, animals can only be moved out of the zone if they are vaccinated or naturally immune to the disease.

Wales' Chief Veterinary Officer, Dr Christianne Glossop added: "The message to the industry is clear: Don't hesitate - vaccinate."

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