Bluetongue vaccine available for cattle and sheep by July

Animal health companies MSD and Zoetis have announced they will be making a bluetongue vaccine available to cattle and sheep farmers by July.

The announcements follow intense pressure for the production of a vaccine from both the National Sheep Association (NSA) and NFU, after an Animal & Plant Health Agency report released in March confirmed there was an 80% chance the disease would hit UK shores this summer.

MSD Animal Health has signed an agreement with Spanish-based veterinary biopharmaceutical specialist CZ Veterinaria to distribute its Bluevac BTV8 bluetongue vaccine throughout Britain.

Bluevac BTV8 is an established vaccine that has been used in Europe for a number of years and MSD says it will be available by mid-July.

See also: Vaccine manufacturers under pressure to restart production

MSD says the agreement has enabled them to fast track the supply of the vaccine to UK farmers, as it would have taken them longer to bring the vaccine to market if they had to manufacture and supply their own.

Meanwhile Zoetis said a batch of bluetongue vaccines, including Zulvac 8 Bovis and Zulvac 8 Ovis, will also be available to veterinary practices in mid-July.

Phil Stocker, NSA Chief Executive, welcomed the news.

 “NSA very warmly welcomes the announcements from MSD Animal Health and Zoetis, and congratulates them on moving so quickly.

“Two jabs per animal is not ideal for sheep but is certainly far preferable to the situation earlier in the year when it looked like we wouldn’t have any vaccine available to us.

“I urge all sheep producers to assess the risk on their farm and seriously consider vaccination.”

All farmers are being urged to speak with their vets if they are considering vaccinating stock. 

About the vaccines

  • Bluevac BTV8 is licensed for both cattle and sheep, and can be used during pregnancy. All animals should be given a primary course of two injections under the skin, three weeks apart. The immunity afforded by the vaccine lasts for a year after completion of the primary course.
  • Zulvac 8 Bovis is licensed for use in cattle whereas the Zulvac 8 Ovis vaccine should be used in sheep. Both vaccines prevent viraemia (bluetongue virus in the blood), caused by the bluetongue virus serotype 8 (BTV-8), and ensures no onward spread of infection via blood sucking midges. The vaccines can be used in cattle from three-months-old and sheep aged six-weeks. Each species require two 2ml doses administered intramuscularly in cattle and subcutaneously in sheep, three weeks apart. Provides immunity for 12 months.