A number of European countries have national programmes to eradicate bovine virus diarrhoea (BVD); some have already succeeded.
More recently both Scotland and Ireland have embarked on national programmes with somewhat different structures but with the same overall objective. The Animal Health and Welfare Strategy Steering Group in Wales has identified BVD as one of their endemic animal disease priorities and they are keen to see an initiative developed to tackle BVD in Wales while ensuring it is joined up across GB.
More recently, it has been proposed to examine a possible English BVD national programme (Berry and others, VR January 12th 2013, vol 172, p52). Although some of us have been talking about this for a number of years, the present proposal is distinguished by its strong industrial support from both Levy bodies and farming organisations. We have a year (to April 2014) in which to gather sufficient evidence and support to assess whether England and Wales are both in a position and prepared to undertake such a task. Clearly there will be some substantial difficulties to consider, not least the present financial position of farmers and the long shadow of bovine tuberculosis.
The newly-formed BVD Stakeholders Group (under the aegis of The England Cattle Health and Welfare Group) will examine the overall issues involved with veterinarian/farmer training programmes and also with national control. To guide the Stakeholder Group, a Scientific and Technical sub-Group (STG) has been formed. The STG will look at a number of issues; the suitability and availability of BVD tests, the best way that such tests can be used and the overall structure that best suits a national programme for BVD control and eradication.
As Chairman of this STG, I am writing to my colleagues in cattle practice to ask them kindly to contact me with details of any BVD control scheme that they are undertaking with their clients. Over the years, both Richard Booth and I at The Royal Veterinary College have spoken to many of you and to your practices in England and Wales but I would urge all practices to make contact again soon, hopefully by the 6th May. This will allow us to obtain up-to-date information and, thereby, some national understanding of what is already underway. I am aware of some excellent schemes and, by collating such information, we may find we are doing better nationally than we know! The recent letter by Reynolds and Mouncey (VR February 2nd, vol 172, p52) is encouraging.
The questionnaire outlining the information that would be most useful for this analysis can be obtained here:
Our preference would be for the questionnaire to be downloaded from here, completed electronically and returned by email to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have any problems downloading the questionnaire, please contact us directly at the Royal Veterinary College (Lisa Harber: 01707 666323). Replies by the 6th May would be very much appreciated.
A series of Webinar presentations were recorded in February 2013 as part of the National BVD Control Programme: