Warning of bluetongue outbreak in cattle in Britain

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London, Sep 30 (UNI) Experts have warned of an imminent outbreak of bluetongue disease in the next few weeks in Britain.

The number of confirmed cases rose to 11 yesterday, but more cattle were being investigated in counties outside Suffolk, where the virus was first found, the Guardian reported.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown has been warned by government vets of a significant rise in the number of cases over the next six weeks, as the recent warm weather has allowed biting midges to thrive in mild temperatures.

He said, ''the government was absolutely determined to stamp out the disease, to contain, control and eradicate it.'' He said it would set up a 24-hour telephone service to keep farmers informed about the fight against bluetongue.

He also indicated that farmers affected by the bluetongue outbreak will receive help - financial or otherwise -from the government.

Earlier, the deputy chief veterinary officer, Fred Landeg, said there would be no compensation for farmers affected by bluetongue because animals were not being culled.

Permanent bluetongue control zones with movement restrictions on cattles have also come into force, comprising parts of Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex and Cambridgeshire.

A vaccine against the virus is attempted to be made at the government's animal research facility at Pirbright, in Surrey.

There have been nearly 3,000 cases of bluetongue in northern Europe, including the Netherlands, Belgium, France and Germany since July, which had fuelled fears of its arrival in Britain.

Cattle, sheep, goats and deer can be infected, but the virus does not pose a risk to humans.


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