14 July 1995

Rise in scab to be tackledhard

"TOUGH new measures" to tackle the rise in sheep scab have been announced by the government.

Junior farm minister Angela Browning said the new measures involved a publicity campaign, continued surveillance at markets and Meat Hygiene Service staff monitoring scab infestation in sheep arriving at slaughterhouses.

Investigations during the past two years showed that the number of infested sheep had increased, Mrs Browning told MPs this week.

Although a State Veterinary Service survey this spring showed that the numbers of scab-affected sheep sent to markets and sales had declined, reports from vets suggested the number of infected farms had risen dramatically.

The survey, carried out in March and April, showed that the batches of scab-infected sheep found during market inspections had fallen from 177 in 1994, to 47 this year. But the outbreaks of the disease reported by vets had more than doubled, from 254 last spring to 595 this year.

A MAFF official said the publicity campaign would be launched in the autumn. It would encourage good management practice, including the proper use of the available treatments.

He added that any welfare cases associated with scab would be reported to the SVS.

could be taken under farm animal welfare legislation. MAFF was aware of five prosecutions that were likely to be brought following this years spring survey.

Despite the increased prevalence, MAFF had no plans to reinstate scab as a notifiable disease. "Notification itself is not of any great value if it is not backed up by further measures to eradicate the disease," he said.