Author Topic: Exports of livestock are blamed for disease. Isle of Thanet Gazette  (Read 884 times)

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Exports of livestock are blamed for disease. Isle of Thanet Gazette
« Reply #1 on: March 10, 2012, 11:53:05 AM »
AN ANIMAL welfare group claims a new virus infecting sheep across the South East could be linked to live exports from Ramsgate.

Reg Bell from Thanet Against Live Export believes the spread of the Schmallenberg Virus (SBV) coincides with the resumption of live exports.

He said: "No one is considering the fact that the virus could have been spread by midges hitching a lift on trucks from the continent."

Earlier this week Laura Sandys, MP for Thanet South, called for a ban on the import and export of livestock following the outbreak of SBV, which causes lambs to be born dead or deformed.

She said: "There are so many unknowns at present. We are still researching the level of infection between groups and whether or not an animal with the virus will be permanently affected."

SBV has been found to also cause birth defects in cattle and goats.

Mrs Sandys added: "The Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency have said that the counties in the South East of England are most are risk and I feel that there is a very strong need for us to mitigate the spread of the virus."

However, farmers have scorned suggestions that the spread of SBV is caused by live exports.

Roger Dunn, 55, who runs the Chandler and Dunn farm in Ash, has herd of 500 sheep.

He said: "I don't think banning live exports will make any difference because it comes on the wind across the Channel."

Alan West, secretary of the Romney Sheep Breeder's Society, called the claims "laughable".

He said: "It is unlikely the midges that carry the virus came over through live exports. Blaming exports for the spread of the disease is absolute nonsense."

A spokesman for Defra said: "Schmallenberg cases in the UK are likely to be a result of midges spreading the disease from affected areas in Europe last year.

"An import ban on animals would not have prevented animals in the UK from becoming infected and a trade ban now would be of no benefit."

The Government's chief veterinary officer, Nigel Gibbens, said: "We are working closely with our partners across Europe to understand more about this virus and support the farming industry's efforts in dealing with it.

"An important part of this is closely monitoring cases of Schmallenberg, and I thank farmers for their help promptly reporting cases of suspected infection.

"Currently, we're seeing a relatively limited impact on farms, but of course this could change as the lambing and calving seasons continue."

Friday, March 09, 2012