Fears rise over blowflies spreading disease on Suffolk farms

A blowfly on a leaf Picture: Michael Cooper

A blowfly on a leaf Picture: Michael Cooper - Credit: citizenside.com

Farmers are being urged to take immediate, preventative action to guard against disease spread by blowflies, which could result in the deaths of livestock.

The blowfly risk has been increased to 'medium' in the Suffolk area, it has been confirmed.

The National Animal Disease Information Service (NADIS) and animal health organisation Elanco, which collaborated to compile the risk alert, are strongly advising farmers to take steps to prepare for blowflies.

Richard Wall, Professor of zoology and compiler of the risk alert, said the recent weather has resulted in the increased likelihood of an attack.

Prof Wall said: "The warm and wet autumn is keeping the strike risk higher than this time last year. Blowflies need temperatures of above 12°C to be able to lay eggs, so while the current weather persists, the threat from strike will remain real.

"Farmers therefore need to maintain vigilance, particularly since most treatments applied in summer will not still be protecting animals at this stage of the season."

Blowflies typically feed on carrion or dung, and can carry diseases and infections that are capable of killing sheep.

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They are known to infest on open wounds and lay eggs in sheep wool, which can lead to septicemia.

The impact of blowflies on a farm can be devastating, resulting in financial losses and welfare problems.

A joint statement from NADIS and Elanco warned that preventative medicine, which protects livestock against infections caused by blowflies, will likely no longer be effective if applied earlier in the year.

Dr Fiona Lovatt, sheep veterinary consultant, said: "The costs of inaction when it comes to blowfly strike far outweigh the costs of protection."

A real-time tracker of recent blowfly cases is available: https://farmanimalhealth.co.uk/tracker

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