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The Scottish Government announces putting
an order for Bluetongue vaccine
out to tender.
A touch late, isn't it?
Teviot Scientific, Cultybraggan Farm, Comrie, Perthshire
Filed 09 Apr 08
It has been formally announced that the Scottish Government (SG) will issue a tender today to procure vaccine (12m doses) for Scotland. The SG will contribute 50% to the cost of vaccine procurement to the maximum of £3m in the first year only. The industry will pay the balance.
The SG will pay for the distribution, enforcement, monitoring, surveillance, etc, of the BTV8 vaccine, long term.
The industry will bear the full cost of the vaccine and use in year two onwards.
A compulsory vaccine programme administered by farmers will be conducted over the winter period, details to be agreed.
This implies a starting date at the beginning of the next Vector Free Period, probably around 20th Dec 2008 over to about 15th March 2009, depending on climatic conditions.
So it would seem that we are being compelled to wait - like sitting ducks - for Bluetongue Disease to hit Scotland from now until Dec 2008.
Before late December 2008 it is highly likely that at least the south of Scotland will be in a Surveillance Zone (and all that it entails), if not in a Protection Zone. But the ordering of vaccine for Scotland is today only at the start of going out to tender. When is that vaccine for Scotland likely to become available?
With the current illogical EC rules, once the disease has been confirmed in Scotland, a Protection Zone would extend into Scotland and vaccination could begin and try to play catch-up with the disease. A game that is likely to be lost.
But if Scotland does not have the vaccine in time, even that degree of protection may not be available.
Whatever the consortium of epidemiological modellers (EPIC) might come up with in its predictions (1) this is a very big risk.
That is what the NBA Scotland petition over the very damaging and illogical EC rules is all about Click Here to View
The European Livestock Association (ELA) has today written to the Agricultural Committee of the EC (and its Commissioner) along the same lines as the NBA Scotland Petition (2).
Keeping fingers crossed is not a good way of controlling the spread of disease. But vaccination properly timed and properly placed BEFORE the virus arrives in a country at risk most certainly is.
Scottish livestock farmers may be in for a bumpy ride this late spring, summer, autumn and through to the winter and next spring. All because of inadequate policies concerning the control of animal disease on the part of the EC and on the part of Governments in the UK, both north and south of the Border.
The good news is that, in contrast to the regrettable situation in England, when Bluetongue vaccination gets underway in Scotland it will be compulsory.
1. Irvine, James (2008). EPIC Report on the risk of Bluetongue Disease reaching Scotland is not due until the end of April.
Filed 04 Apr 08, www.land-care.org.uk Click Here to View
2. The European Livestock Association's letter concerning Bluetongue vaccination in Bluetongue-free countries
filed 09 Apr 08, www.land-care.org.uk Click Here to View