Fourth bluetongue case in Suffolk

A fourth case of the animal virus bluetongue was confirmed in Suffolk today.The animal is understood to have been identified during a check of animals near the first cases of the disease at Baylham, near Ipswich.

A FOURTH case of the animal virus bluetongue was confirmed in Suffolk this afternoon.

The animal is understood to have been identified during a check of animals near the first cases of the disease at Baylham, near Ipswich.

The new case comes as a Sproughton farmer today voiced his concern over the blue tongue virus spreading across the county.

Many farmers across Suffolk were already fearing the worst after it was confirmed that a third cow on a farm near Lowestoft tested positive for the virus yesterday.

On Saturday a cow tested positive for blue tongue at the Baylham House rare breeds farm, near Ipswich, and a second one from the same farm had to be put down on Monday for the same virus.

Officials from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs have currently banned farm-to-farm movements in the area surrounding the premises, in both Norfolk and Suffolk.

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Beef farmer, Ben Woolf, at Oak House Farm, Burstall Lane, Sproughton, said: “It is very worrying and there is not a lot we can do about it as it is carried by midges. I'll be keeping an eye on things and making sure none of the cows are showing any symptoms.

“Some people have suggested using insecticide but in a large scale area, this doesn't work.

“I have been watching out for this for the past couple of years and last year, it was very worrying because it seemed to be near the coast line in Europe. The hope was that the sea would protect us.

“The bigger impact this will have for us is the movement restrictions in place which makes the price of beef go down.”

A spokesman for Defra said there is not sufficient evidence to confirm an active outbreak of bluetongue at this stage however National Farmers' Union East Anglia regional director Pamela Forbes expressed concern.

She said: “A bluetongue outbreak would be difficult to deal with but farmers will be hoping that the disease can be contained with measures such as animal movement controls and insecticide treatment of places where midges are likely to congregate. The right action now could buy time for a suitable vaccine to be developed.”

Epidemiological investigations are currently underway to establish whether bluetongue disease is circulating in the UK.

Chief veterinary officer, Debby Reynolds, said: “Whilst foot and mouth disease and bluetongue are present in the country, all animal keepers should proceed with caution.

“To provide clarity on movement restrictions, farming leaders, the veterinary profession, Defra and all of those concerned will continue to provide a constant flow of information as this is a dynamic situation.

”If in doubt, people can consult a wide range of sources of information.”

Bluetongue is spread by the Culicoides midge and affects cattle, sheep, goats, and deer. It cannot be caught by people and there are no food safety or human health issues involved.

Are you a farmer with concerns about your livelihood? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.

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