From: Reuters
Published April 30, 2008 07:11 AM

Britain receives first batch of bluetongue vaccine

LONDON (Reuters) - The first batch of 1 million doses of bluetongue vaccine has been delivered and is ready to be distributed, Britain's farm ministry said on Wednesday.

Britain's first ever case of the bluetongue virus, a disease which can be highly dangerous to sheep and cows, was reported in eastern England in September 2007.

"Vaccination offers the only realistic prospect of controlling bluetongue. Supplies will build up over the summer and so I want to encourage farmers and veterinarians to order and use the vaccine," Alick Simmons, Acting Chief Veterinary Officer, said in a statement.

The vaccine is supplied by Intervet UK, owned by American drugmaker Schering Plough.

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Britain's farm ministry announced in December it was placing an order with Intervet for 22.5 million doses of the vaccine. At that time, no suitable vaccine was available for the strain of the virus circulating in England.

"I am very pleased with the rapid progress that Intervet has made to develop and produce this new vaccine ahead of schedule and in a very tight timescale," Farm Minister Hilary Benn was quoted as saying in the statement.

(Reporting by Nigel Hunt; editing by Chris Johnson)

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