With Foot and Mouth restrictions still in place in Surrey after a new case was confirmed over the weekend, a new disease has just been found in a British cow for the first time, it was reported in the Guardian. Bluetongue, which can affect cattle, sheep, goats and deer but not humans, is often fatal in sheep and can reduce milk yield in cows. As bluetongue is not prevalent in Britain, it is feared that an outbreak could cause many deaths as immunity to the disease is not widespread amongst British cattle.
A vaccine is currently in development, but it is hoped this case will prove to be an isolated case. The farm, near Ipswich, is currently under investigation, with animals and midges being tested for bluetongue. The affected animal has been culled, and with midge season nearing its end, it's hoped the disease will not be spread.
The current situation is a chilling indicator that the farming commentators who criticise modern farming methods as encouraging disease, may well be right. Colin Tudge, a critic of modern agribusiness and meat production, predicted in his book So Shall We Reap that diseases which could wipe out whole swathes of the country's farm animals or plant species revel in modern farm conditions. How many epidemics do there have to be before someone takes notice?