The Blue Tongue virus outbreak which has already claimed the lives of over 2'000 sheep in Majorca and Minorca is causing the farming industry and the Agriculture Ministries in Palma and Madrid a great deal of concern and yesterday the livestock sector in Minorca, which is not allowed to move any of their animals without permission from a local vet complained about the economic losses the whole sector is suffering, be it sheep or cattle. Next week 400'000 vaccinations against Blue Tongue, an “exotic virus” will arrive in the Balearics from South Africa and be administered by the European Vaccine Bank as part of a blanket vaccination operation across both islands in a final bid to bring the outbreak under control. At the moment sheep herds at 100 farms in Majorca alone have been hit by the disease. Sources for the local Ministry for Agriculture said yesterday that the figure could rise over the next few days as the incubation period is around 40 days and according to recent studies and veterinary reports, the strain appears to be strong because of the fatal effect it is having. The most affected area of Majorca is the Llevant area of the island, but the Ministry yesterday tried to prevent the outbreak from alarming the general public. While the virus is transmitted by midges or mosquitoes, it is “not transmittable to humans neither by direct contact with infected animals nor by mosquito bites, consuming meat or milk.” Information hotlines have been set up and steps are underway to establish how much compensation farmers who have lost livestock will eventually receive. The European Union is being asked to help compensate farmers and the local government is also prepared to provide funding.


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