LONDON, May 1 /PRNewswire/ -- Cattle at Bixley Farms in Norfolk were today (1 May) the first animals in the country to be vaccinated against Bluetongue serotype 8 as over one million doses are delivered for animals in the Protection Zone on the first day of the vaccine roll-out.

Intervet, the animal health company behind this new vaccine, isolated the Bluetongue serotype 8 virus in September 2006, soon after the first European outbreak, and started an emergency programme to develop a suitable vaccine. The vaccine has gone from research & development to full-scale production in a record-breaking 20 months rather than the usual five to ten years and its delivery is ahead of schedule.

Under EU law, vaccination is only allowed in a Protection Zone and Defra's vaccination roll-out plan sets out how the vaccine will be distributed to ensure that those livestock most at risk are the first to receive it.

Defra awarded the vaccine tender to Intervet in December after a three-way bid. The company was chosen on the strength of the vaccine's technical credentials, the fact that it requires only one dose for sheep, the speed at which the vaccine could be manufactured and a price point that would encourage maximum uptake by the agricultural community.

David Hallas, general manager from Intervet UK, part of Schering-Plough, comments: "Since Defra placed its order for 22.5 million doses, we have been working around the clock to provide a vaccine to help fight this devastating disease. It is a testament to all those involved at Intervet, Defra and the regulatory authorities that we are ahead of schedule in releasing the vaccine and will be able to help the farming community protect livestock in time for the peak midge season. More doses of the vaccine will be delivered over the next few weeks and months and we expect to complete the Defra order by August."

Tim Cane, farm manager at Bixley Farms, comments: "Bluetongue is a particularly horrific disease and whether you're a smallholder with a few animals or a farmer with a large commercial enterprise it's our duty to ensure that as many sheep and cattle in the protection zone as possible are vaccinated to help prevent the disease from spreading."

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Notes to Editor

Schering-Plough is an innovation-driven, science-centred global health care company. Through its own biopharmaceutical research and collaborations with partners, Schering-Plough creates therapies that help save and improve lives around the world. The company applies its research-and-development platform to human prescription and consumer products as well as to animal health products. Schering-Plough's vision is to "Earn Trust, Every Day" with the doctors, patients, customers and other stakeholders served by its colleagues around the world. The company is based in Kenilworth, N.J., and its website is

Intervet UK Ltd, a part of Schering-Plough, is a leading animal health company in the UK based in Milton Keynes. Intervet is dedicated to the research and development of high quality innovative animal health products and providing industry-leading technical support and customer service. For more information visit the following websites: and

Details of the strategy for rolling out vaccination across England can be found on the Defra website:

Details of JAB (the Joint campaign against website) can be found on the NFU website:

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