Uncertainty continues over St Boswells centre
FARMS in the Borders could be at greater risk to being exposed to disease if a surveillance centre in St Boswells is closed, it has been claimed.
Local MSP John Lamont issued the warning following the spread of the Schmallenberg virus which can cause still births and deformities in lambs and calves.
Earlier this year, the Kinnaird Report suggested closing some of eight Disease Surveillance Centres across Scotland.
But, this week, local farms were placed on high alert following the spread of the Schmallenberg virus in neighbouring Northumberland and North Yorkshire.
Mr Lamont, Conservative MSP for Roxburgh and Berwickshire, said: "The Schmallenberg Virus poses a huge threat to farms in the Borders and it is deeply concerning that it has been detected in cattle even closer to the border. It simply cannot be allowed to spread any further or otherwise we risk seeing Borders farms devastated by this disease.
"It is times like this that remind us why we have a Disease Surveillance Centre in St. Boswells to pick up any evidence of the virus spreading as soon as possible. That is why the suggestions in the Kinnaird Report to close some of the Surveillance Centres around Scotland must be ignored."
He added: "To close the centre in St Boswells now or in the future would take away one of the only defences we have against the spread of the disease."
The Scottish Government revealed it was working with the National Farmers Union in Scotland to monitor the spread of the Schmallenberg virus by offering farmers free testing in animals imported from areas where the virus is circulating.
And it insisted no decisions had been taken over the future of the Disease Surveillance Centre in St Boswells.
A spokesperson for the Scottish Government's Rural Affairs and Environment department said: "The message is to urge vigilance amongst farmers - there is no need for panic."
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