Join the ongoing debate on bluetongue and foot-and-mouth in the FWiSpace discussion forums.

The discovery of bluetongue in two cows in Suffolk has sparked a debate among farmers about why a vaccine is not already available

The use of vaccination to control foot-and-mouth is an issue that can divide the farming community.

But the fact that bluetongue is transferred by midge, rather than animal to animal, means that farmers see vaccination as the solution to controlling the disease.

Writing on the FWiSpace discussion forums, Jacobus said: “Whatever the arguments are against vaccination against F&M, bluetongue is different, in its clinical outcomes, its means of transmission, and particularly that the risk in Northern Europe is only from one serotype.”

He added: “It seems the only sensible step is vaccination.  Why should there be any hesitation?  With the problems in Holland, Belgium, Germany and France why hasn’t vaccine production been a top priority for our EU masters?

Frank the Wool, who attended a recent stakeholder meeting on bluetongue, said he had been told that an attenuated vaccine would take until spring 2008 to develop.

“I was told that it is not a quick job to make an inactivated (attenuated is the correct term I think) vaccine and the amount required has to be built up in a factory process. We are talking about millions of doses here.

“There is an instant live vaccine but it is very dangerous and will more likely kill sheep than save them!! (Might be a good thing I suppose!).”

The aged clun urged farmers to write to their MP calling for a vaccine for bluetongue to be developed as soon as possible.

“It is really quite depressing what a “Can’t do – we have to wait and see/get approval” society we have become. What we need is a government/chief veterinary officer who says “We want this – and we are going to do it – you lot can follow suit”.

“At the moment it is like the fire brigade arriving at a fire and then doing a health and safety assessment before connecting the hose pipe!

Dick agreed, adding: ”We, the farmers, need to demand that vaccines are used for this sort of event, particularly when we have no effective border controls.

“These epidemics will become regular events and without the use of vaccines whole swathes of the country will be regularly closed down with all the devastating effects that that incurs for all rural businesses. “

 Join the ongoing debate on bluetongue and foot-and-mouth in the FWiSpace discussion forums.