MARCH 12, 2008: Britain’s bluetongue vaccination strategy will not halt the disease, warn top European vets.

They also castigate Defra for its approach to animal disease issues andsay the effectiveness of its bluetongue strategy will by compromised bycost cutting.The Federation of Veterinarians of Europe (FVE) say that with a voluntary vaccination scheme, it would be almost impossible to monitor the programme and could lead to problems when exporting vaccinated stock without proof that the vaccine had been administered effectively.“The British plans fail to guarantee an optimal protection of the animals against the disease, while opportunities to limit further spread of the disease remain untapped,” said Walter Winding, FVE president.Mr Winding criticised the strategy as ‘probably driven by a strong desire to cut costs, and has little to do with animal health and welfare’.He said: “Irrespective of the disease outbreaks the UK has faced over recent years, it continues to cut budgets and to reduce its Animal Health Services, something that goes completely against the new EU Community Animal Health Strategy, which focuses on prevention rather than cure.”Unlike other European countries the UK opted for a voluntary scheme, as this was the quickest way to get vaccine to farmers.A compulsory scheme such as those in Spain and the Netherlands would ensure maximum coverage, but Defra claim would take too long to roll out, with additional bureaucracy as vets would have to administer the injections.The strategy has received support from vets in the UK and from the NFU, confident that despite being voluntary, a vast majority of farmers will appreciate the need to protect their stock.

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