MEPs have given green light for more flexible use of new vaccines to treat Bluetongue disease

The new rules to enable new bluetongue vaccines to be used more efficiently, and thus make farmers' lives easier have been approved by the European Parliament. This decision is aimed to combat several epidemic waves of disease have hit many EU Member States since the early 2000s, causing significant losses of livestock.

The European Parliament has approved, as agreed in a second reading compromise with the Council, the new rules to enable new bluetongue vaccines to be used more efficiently. If Member States put these rules into effect quickly, then the new vaccines could be used for the 2012 vaccination campaign. The Commission presented a proposal concerned this issue in January 2011.

The new rules will allow the use of new inactivated vaccines outside restricted areas where the disease has occurred recently in order to control the spread of the blue tongue disease better. Unlike the live attenuated vaccines used in the past, the inactivated ones pose no risk of transmitting viruses to other animals.

Bluetongue is an insect-transmitted viral disease affecting ruminants (such as cattle, sheep and goats). The directive will come into force the day after its publication in the EU Official Journal. Member States will then have up to six months to transpose new rules into their national laws.