Update on Bluetongue cases in UK

December 20, 2023

Update on Bluetongue cases in UK

A case of the notifiable disease, Bluetongue was confirmed in a cow near Canterbury, Kent, on 11 November, following routine testing. A Temporary Control Zone (TCZ) was implemented within 10km of the case. Following active surveillance, in total 30 cases have been identified on 17 premises with 12 different keepers (as of 21st December). The Kent TCZ has been extended and an additional TCZ has been set up in Norfolk after cases were identified there at the beginning of December. Most cases have been in cattle but a small number of cases have been identified in sheep. All animals have been humanely culled to reduce the risk of onward transmission. Despite the number of cases, there is currently no evidence that Bluetongue virus is circulating in the midge population in the UK.

Bluetongue is a viral disease transmitted by biting midges, which affects all ruminants (e.g. sheep, cattle, goats and deer) and camelids (e.g. llama and alpaca).  The current strain circulating is BTV-3 which is different to the previous strain we had in the UK.

Due to this being a new strain, the vaccine we had previously will not offer cross-protection against this new BTV-3 strain. It is therefore very important that we follow the advice to take action and prioritise good biosecurity measures. Bluetongue does not pose a threat to human health, but it remains a notifiable disease and any suspicion must be reported to APHA on 0300 020 0301.

Symptoms of BTV-3 can vary across ruminants, with sheep generally exhibiting more overt symptoms than cattle, but both can show clinical signs.

These include in sheep; drooling, mouth lesions, high fever, lameness and oedema (swollen heads) and sudden death. Cattle are not usually as severely affected but may show similar clinical signs as well as teat, eye, coronary band and nose lesions.

The advice for farmers is to beware when buying animals in, take action to report any signs, and always, remain vigilant:

  1. Buyer beware, only source animals from Europe responsibly.
  2. Take action, prioritise biosecurity and report any suspicious clinical signs.
  3. Vigilance is key, monitor livestock closely.

For more information, please visit www.gov.uk/guidance/bluetongue or call the surgery.



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