NFU Scotland has called on the Scottish government to make cattle scab a notifiable disease after vets in the Borders confirmed the country’s first case in more than 30 years.
The affected animal was a calf that had recently been imported with its suckler cow mother from outside Great Britain.
Union president Nigel Miller said the Scottish government had already been approached on a number of occasions to recognise the “significant risks” posed by the disease, which has severe welfare and economic consequences.
“If it does become endemic it will affect the status of Scottish cattle and undo the hard work of the industry to establish a reputation for quality within Scottish cattle,” he said.
“NFUS calls upon the Scottish government to revisit the question of making this disease notifiable. A combination of heightened vigilance and notifiable status gives us the opportunity to act now and ensure this disease is not allowed to become established in Scotland.”
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The Scottish cattle industry has been concerned about the possible spread of cattle scab for several years and NFU Scotland has regularly issued warnings to members, alerting them particularly to the risks of importing cattle from high-risk areas.
Since 2011, SAC Consulting has offered a free analysis of suspected cases while researchers at the Moredun Research Institute are developing a blood test to uncover hidden infection.
Helen Carty of SAC Consulting Veterinary Services confirmed cattle scab had the potential to become established in Scotland because of the movement of animals and the difficulties of treatment.
She added: “I would urge farmers to remain vigilant for any signs of cattle scab and to notify their vet of any suspect cases.”