With bluetongue rampant on the main European Continent in 2008, why were there no outbreaks reported in the UK? The essential criteria for introduction of the disease by carriage of infected midges on the wind have been assessed for 2006, 2007 and 2008, and it is concluded that temperatures were favourable for virus replication and midge activity and that suitable winds were present on a considerable number of occasions. A major difference between 2007, when virus was introduced to the UK, and 2008 was the extensive vaccination programme implemented by the UK Government in 2008, with the support of the farming community. Vaccination reduced the numbers of susceptible animals, making it difficult for a focus of disease to become established. The authors believe that if bluetongue re-establishes itself on the near Continent in 2009, it will be of critical importance that UK livestock are fully protected by vaccination against the disease.
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