Wednesday, 10 October 2007

Tilting at Windmills

DEFRA in Dreamland
Commenting on the announcement that the PZ for Bluetongue has indeed been expanded, deputy chief veterinary officer Fred Landeg, quoted in Farmers Weekly, said: "Finding further cases is not unexpected, particularly given the nature of the disease, and we expect to see more cases before the end of the active midge season this winter. If we are to contain the disease within the Control and Protection Zone, we must have an accurate picture of how far the disease has spread."
But even for Fred Landeg midges will not behave in a regimented and acceptable manner. Unlike the rest of his department midges dare to cross red lines. Which is precisely why random blood checks around the control zone, preferably in cattle, should have been carried out long ago. Surveillance and testing has been woeful and this applies to Foot and Mouth too. DEFRA's position is still "wait and hope" and their location - according to commentators at one EU meeting who must remain anonymous - is "dreamland".
Will Mr Landeg be ordering men in white suits to place sticky nets around the perimeter of the new zone?"Unless one plans to concrete the whole country these isolated measures won't have any influence on vector numbers..." writes Sabine Zentis from the heart of midge infested Germany.
While one would not put it past the present incumbents to want to concrete over the whole country, the unfortunate fact remains that bluetongue is not going to be fought off by anything short of vaccine. There may be some short term measures and an interesting article appeared in the Farmers Guardian today on the subject - but our German correspondent, about as experienced as we're going to find, has written a commentary which warns
....the use of these products only had a very minimal, if any effect on infections....The problem is the vast amount of culicoides, there are gazillions around and because of their numbers these measures don't work satisfactorily My private view :
The whole insecticide exercise gave people the feeling of at least doing SOMETHING but the use as a means to prevent Bluetongue is questionable. We did it all - from as early as April, - pour on, ear clips containing deltamethrine, Ivermectine - but with approx. 20% of animals clinically affected and an unknown number of subclinically infected animals I don't see this as a big success.
It is a Don Quixote fight...."

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