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Brussels, 16 January 2008

Bluetongue: Commission offers co-funding for vaccination campaign

Markos Kyprianou, Commissioner for Health, today announced that the Commission will make funds available to co-finance an emergency mass vaccination campaign against bluetongue in the EU in 2008. Bluetongue is an insect-transmitted, viral disease which affected thousands of animals across 11 Member States in 2007. At a conference hosted by the Commission in Brussels today, over 350 experts met to discuss the best ways of tackling this disease, with a particular focus on vaccination as a prevention and control measure.

Commissioner Kyprianou said: "I am pleased to announce that my services have agreed with those of Commissioner Fischer-Boel that Community agricultural funds will be made available to reimburse Member States' expenditure in relation to an emergency vaccination campaign in 2008. In principle, 100% of the costs of the purchase of the vaccine and 50% of the costs of the application of the vaccine will be covered by the Community budget, subject to certain ceilings for these operational costs. Non-emergency vaccination campaigns in subsequent years would fall under the framework of the Community co-financed eradication programmes."

Vaccination is regarded as one of the most effective ways of controlling and even eradicating bluetongue disease. It reduces clinical signs and mortality in affected animals, reduces the spread of the virus and lowers the economic losses linked to outbreaks of the disease.

Conference participants included representatives from the Commission, Member States, third countries, international organisations and stakeholder groups. Discussions also centred on technical and economic aspects related to carrying out vaccination against bluetongue, including trade considerations. Following presentations on successful vaccination experiences in Member States and third countries, there was wide consensus that a mass vaccination strategy in the affected Member States should be facilitated and that all available vaccines should be used. Such a vaccination policy is fully in line with the new approach proposed in the Community Animal Health Strategy 2007-13, which has as its motto –"prevention is better than cure" (See IP/07/1357).

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