Scottish pig and poultry producers have been put on red alert following further outbreaks of diseases in Europe and Ukraine.
Earlier this year, a poultry unit in East Yorkshire had an outbreak of Avian Influenza.
Although restrictions on the unit have now been lifted, outbreaks were recently confirmed in Italy and Germany, and producers have been urged to remain vigilant for the disease.
It is unclear how birds become infected with the disease, but it is thought it may be a result of indirect contact with wild birds.
According to NFU Scotland, pig producers should also remain vigilant as a deadly virus, which has already wiped out more than a tenth of the US pig population in the past two years, was recently found in Ukraine.
The American/Asian strain of Porcine Epidemic Diarrhoea virus (PEDv) causes up to 100% mortality in piglets on infected pig farms.
Scottish pig producers and industry bodies are now calling on pig breeding companies to adhere to a voluntary ban on the import of live pigs to the UK from any PEDv-hit country.
NFU Scotland’s animal health and welfare policy manager Penny Johnston said: “The details of the latest European farms infected with Avian Influenza are, as yet, unclear but certainly the first farms affected were all indoor facilities leading to the conclusion that infection is most likely to be via indirect contact through human activities, such as movement of vehicles and equipment.
“There are no direct migration routes from Asia to Europe but the virus has probably been transmitted to other birds at stopover places passing it into the European wild bird population. In the light of the probability that the virus is entering farms through human activities, keepers are advised to take a critical look at their biosecurity arrangements and practice and make improvements as necessary.”
With regards PEDv, Ms Johnston said the virus posed a substantial threat to the Scottish pig herd and said its entry to the Country would be a “devastating blow for the sector”.
She said: “The success of any approach in combatting PEDv will be determined by the weakest link in our defences. Robust action and an all island approach has the best chance of keeping us free of this dreadful virus. Were it to arrive, then Canada’s response shows us that speed is everything in disease control and in reducing the health, welfare and economic impact of a virus like PEDv. Prompt reporting or diagnosis must trigger an immediate response to shut down the disease.
“The industry has a role in highlighting the risk on grower units; the need to take episodes of profuse scour seriously and to test for PEDv. Clearly high piglet mortalities on breeding farms must press immediate alarm bells.”