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Why Sheep Producers Need Bluetongue Insurance

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Bluetongue disease is spreading quickly around the world.

If experience elsewhere in the world is an indicator, it is only a matter of time before bluetongue (BT) spreads into unaffected regions in Canada.

Once BT infects an animal, the disease can spread rapidly through an entire flock. The midge which carries the disease cannot be completely eradicated creating the potential for persistent, crippling disease outbreaks.

Vaccination is not a viable option in Canada. There are no licensed vaccines in Canada today.

There are five serotypes of the disease considered endemic to the United States. In the U. S., only one modified live virus (MLV) vaccine for serotype 10 has been registered for use in sheep and goats. MLV vaccines can depress milk production in lactating sheep and cause birth defects if used in pregnant animals. The danger of reassortment with field bluetongue viruses and reversion to virulence are factors to consider prior to allowing the use of such a vaccine in Canada.

Any preventive vaccination program would require multiple serotypes and then we’d have to hope that the BT virus that reached Canada was one of these five strains – and not a new serotype.

There are no other options that protect your profitability.

Even if vaccines were available to Canadian farmers, the cost can be prohibitive in comparison with insurance. One dose of vaccine in the U. K. costs between C$1 and $1.25. At a minimum of five vaccines per animal – vaccinating 20 animals becomes more expensive than purchasing BT insurance, and, not all of your costs will be covered.

Insurance is fast, simple and affordable.

BT insurance is available in Canada now at rates which are inexpensive and accessible. Average cost per farm is less than $100 per year. Bluetongue insurance covers production losses, vet bills and cleanup. If producers don’t take advantage of the coverage afforded by BT insurance, this financial protection may no longer be readily available in the marketplace or be available at current low prices.

Producers can sign up for BT insurance at www.cansheep.ca.

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