The Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) is a Government agency here in Britain. It’s part of the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). Among other tasks, VMD approves new veterinary drugs and vaccines.
Farming eyes have been on VMD since terrible deformities started to appear, afflicting lambs and kids in some flocks, calves and fawns in some herds. The deformities are caused by an emerging disease – that is, a disease new to us – due to a virus transmitted by midges. The virus is called Schmallenberg virus (SBV). You can see what DEFRA says about SBV, what the European Food Standards Agency says about it, and follow my ‘Schmallenberg virus’ tag for more info and links.
I told you that a vaccine was coming against SBV. Now it’s here. Within the last few weeks, UK farmers have become the first in the European Union to have the option of vaccinating animals against SBV.
Johann Tasker at Farmers Weekly told us that the vaccine was arriving in Britain. Nicholas Robinson at Meat Trades Journal told us that the vaccine would become available during the summer. That’s the right time to vaccinate spring-lambing and spring-calving animals, before they get pregnant naturally or by artificial insemination. It’s while they’re pregnant that an infected midge bite can let the virus into the animals, starting a fresh round of deformity in the foetuses.
It’s great that the vaccine has become available. Using it isn’t compulsory, so farmers face a choice. Do you spend money on vaccinating? Do you take the chance that midges on your farm won’t bring SBV to your livestock? Here’s a film from my fellow bloggers at Redhill Charollais about using the SBV vaccine.
Farmers Weekly says, don’t mess about. Vaccinate your animals.