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Farmers fight virus

PUBLISHED: 10:59 08 May 2008 | UPDATED: 09:44 23 August 2010

RELIEF: Farmer Roy Glover is preparing to vaccinate his herd.

RELIEF: Farmer Roy Glover is preparing to vaccinate his herd.

FARMERS are preparing to administer vaccines to protect sheep and cattle from a killer disease as the lifesaving drug is delivered. Roy Glover, owner of Hartley Bottom Farm, Longfield, said he will be contacting his vet to get hold of vaccines for more t

FARMERS are preparing to administer vaccines to protect sheep and cattle from a killer disease as the lifesaving drug is delivered.

Roy Glover, owner of Hartley Bottom Farm, Longfield, said he will be contacting his vet to get hold of vaccines for more than 1,000 animals to protect against Blue Tongue virus.

The virus has the potential to decimate herds up and down the country, spread by midge bites.

Mr Glover said: "Our next step is to contact the vet to see if they have got the dosages. I don't know yet how often the cattle will have to be injected and I believe we will be shown how to administer it properly."

After outbreaks across the South East in September last year Mr Glover said a Blue Tongue epidemic was the biggest fear facing farmers in the 'protection zone'. They were worried vaccines would not be available before midges hatch. Sandra Nichols, NFU senior policy advisor for the South East, said: "Blue Tongue is a devastating disease, not only for the animals but it would decimate the commercial market if it took hold. We would urge all farmers to make sure they vaccinate all animals that can catch the virus. It's very good news that it's available so early but there is still a bit of a delay left. Vaccines have gone to wholesalers and then to vets, so it will take another week before farmers can get their hands on it.."

She said that after animals are vaccinated within the protection zone, as more dosages are produced at a rate of two million per week, animals in the extended protection zone would be then be treated. The zone would then be moved continually west and north to limit the range and extent of any potential break out. The vaccination zone currently includes Kent, Sussex, East Anglia and parts of Dorset. If untreated Blue Tongue causes animals heads to swell, eyes and nose to leek fluid and sores around the mouth.

Blue Tongue poses no threat to humans, horses and pigs.

martin.sawden@archant.co.uk

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