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Farmers have used only 24% of the 7.5m doses of bluetongue vaccine available in Wales.

Rural affairs minister Elin Jones told a plenary session of the Welsh assembly on, 23 September, that she was very disappointed with the take-up and planned to write to every farmer to urge vaccination.

She said the picture was even worse before the disease was confirmed in three bulls imported from the Limoges region of France to a farm at Ruthin in Denbighshire.

Since the incident, more farmers had suddenly recognised the risk and 460,000 doses had been used in the past week.

But virus carrying midges were still active and take-up must improve, she said.

“I urge farmers to contact their vets today, and to think twice about importing bluetongue susceptible animals from areas where the disease is endemic.”

But EU regulations allowed free movement of stock between protection zones, which could have very different disease status.

Ms Jones added that she would also use her letter to farmers to try to counter rumours of links between the vaccine and infertility and abortion for which there was no scientific evidence.