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Farming: End of warble fly scourge.

BRITISH cattle are free of warble fly. No traces of the parasitic insect have been found in the annual comprehensive survey of cattle herds in Great Britain for 2002-03.

Farmers have been praised for co-operating in the government campaign that appears to have eradicated a problem that affected one-in-five British cattle.

Animal Health Minister Ben Bradshaw said the survey's findings would reassure livestock farmers.

He said, ``Thanks to the farming community, who responded splendidly to the government campaign in the late 1970s and early 1980s, the disease has been kept at bay from Great Britain.''

The survey, carried out by the Veterinary Laboratories Agency between November 2002 and March 2003 and to be published in the Veterinary Record, involved taking serum samples from 200,769 animals in 5,189 herds, to see if there was any evidence of antibodies to the cattle warble flies, Hypoderma lineatum and Hypoderma bovis. Samples were drawn from those collected for the control of two other notifiable diseases - brucellosis and enzootic bovine leucosis. No samples were confirmed to be warble fly positive.

Warble fly, which has been a notifiable disease since 1982, infects cattle, although horses and deer can also occasionally be affected in endemic areas.

It used to be endemic in Great Britain and as recently as 1978 it was estimated there were around four million cases of warble fly, affecting 20% of the national herd.

The Government embarked on a successful major five-year campaign to eradicate the warble fly between 1978 and 1983.

Farmers were legally obliged to treat their animals with an organophosphate pesticide called phosnet. The treatment is suspected by some to have caused BSE.

Somerset scientist and organic farmer Mark Purdey told the BSE Inquiry how the blend of organophosphates was used by massaging it into a beast's rump to ensure it penetrated hide, flesh and muscle and reached the deep-burrowing warble fly larvae.

Mr Purdey claimed this meant that OP toxins affected the animal's nervous system and led to the disastrous BSE outbreak.

Cases of warble fly have declined from an estimated four million in 1978 to 713 in 1982 and 419 in 1985.

The last case found in live cattle was in 1989 but one dead warble fly was found at a slaughterhouse in 1990.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Jun 23, 2003
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