The whole of Wales is set to become a bluetongue protection zone by the beginning of September, the Welsh Assembly Government has announced.

As expected, the assembly will avoid introducing a gradual roll-out of the zone by county in favour of allowing vaccination to take place across the whole of Wales in one go.

Chief veterinary officer Christianne Glossop said the zone will be introduced by the beginning of September at the latest, subject to the availability of vaccine and no new outbreaks of the disease.

The decision highlighted the need to reignite interest in vaccination, minimise the impact of bluetongue controls during autumn trading and ensure the process was simple, she added.

“We are entering the period of highest risk of bluetongue and, as midge populations become more active, the threat of virus circulation increases.

“While we are seeing a significant number of new cases of bluetongue in mainland Europe – some 2,000 cases in Northern Europe to date – we have not yet seen the disease in Wales.

“This is due to the controls imposed across Europe and the successful vaccination programme in England and Wales so far.

“I would strongly urge livestock keepers to be proactive in vaccinating their animals as soon as vaccine becomes available.”