§ Dr. Strang
To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what is his estimate of(a) the percentage and (b) the number of sheep which are seropositive for maedia visna; and what steps are being taken to control the disease and to warn farmers of the dangers of buying infected animals.286W
§ Mr. Waldegrave
A survey carried out by MAFF in 1993 suggests that around 0.4 per cent.—70,000 sheep—of the national flock may be infected by Maedi visna.
We have taken a number of steps to alert veterinary surgeons and sheep farmers to the risks of infection in sheep. In particular, representatives of the state veterinary service have addressed the Sheep Veterinary Society and briefed individual breed societies. An information sheet is also available for veterinary surgeons and sheep farmers.
Maedi visna is not a notifiable disease. Responsibility for protecting sheep lies primarily with flock owners. Effective disease control measures are part of the basic principles of good stock management. The sheep and goat health scheme operates a maedi visna accreditation scheme for farmers wishing to achieve disease-free status, and to provide an accredited source of unaffected sheep for other flock owners.