Currently, the bluetongue vaccine is unavailable and the NSA has called for farmers to be wary of the disease in the near future following an outbreak in France.

Chief executive Phil Stocker said that manufacturers are “understandably nervous about potentially producing a drug that no one will buy” as there has been “low vaccine uptake in the past”.

He added that the industry as a whole must be responsible and ensure that there is “clear communication between us, government and animal health companies”.

Extent of the virus

The NSA alleges that all existing stocks of the vaccine are owned by the French government and that the most likely source of the disease coming to the UK will be via infected midges coming across the channel from France.

However, the extent of virus circulation in France, as well as weather conditions, will determine the level of risk facing other countries.

Despite the warnings in the UK, IFA sheep committee chair John Lynskey said it isn’t a huge concern for Irish farmers at the moment.

“There was an outbreak in France but that won’t affect Ireland so there is no issue. We wouldn’t recommend that there is any need for a supply of the vaccine at the moment.”

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