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Agriculture: Cattle Disease

House of Lords written question – answered on 6th June 2011.

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Photo of Lord Kennedy of Southwark Lord Kennedy of Southwark Labour

To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their assessment of the prevalence of blood sweating disease in cattle.

Photo of Lord Henley Lord Henley The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Bovine neonatal pancytopenia (BNP) is a novel haemorrhagic disease of young calves which has emerged in a number of European countries in recent years. This disease is also known as bleeding calf syndrome or blood sweating disease. The first British case of BNP was confirmed in a calf in Scotland in April 2009.

Although it is possible to provide a very crude estimate of the prevalence of BNP in the British calf population, it is important to note that the true prevalence of this disease in British calves is unknown. There is no legal requirement for farmers to notify suspected cases of BNP to government veterinary authorities.

Since early 2009, farmers have been encouraged to submit suspected cases of BNP to their local Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency (AHVLA) or Scottish Agricultural College Veterinary Services (SAC VS) laboratory for investigation and diagnosis. Up until the end of July 2010, in order to provide farmers with an incentive to submit suspected cases for diagnosis, AHVLA and SAC VS carried out these investigations free of charge.

As at 17 May 2011, AHVLA and SAC VS have confirmed 380 calf cases of BNP in Great Britain. In order to place this figure in context, the average number of calves in the at-risk age category (0 to 4-weeks-old) on British cattle farms during 2010 was 196,177 (Source: Rapid Analysis and Detection of Animal-related Risks Cattle Tracing System Database). These figures suggest that the prevalence of BNP in the British calf population is very low. However, it must be borne in mind that there may have been significant under-reporting of cases to AHVLA and SAC VS and its also possible that there are unrecognised subclinical cases (calves that are affected but do not show any obvious signs of disease) of BNP on British cattle farms.

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