Bluetongue: What you need to know
BLUETONGUE disease can infect all ruminants, particularly sheep and cattle. The Joint campaign Against Bluetongue (Jab) has put together all the relevant and useful information for farmers, vets, animal health advisers and wider industry across the UK.
This includes what bluetongue is, the current situation and veterinary advice and information about the vaccine, all of which is available at www. nfuonline.com What is bluetongue?
Bluetongue disease is caused by a virus transmitted by biting midges, which are most active between May and October.
The virus can infect all ruminants – such as sheep, cattle, goats and deer – and camelids – such as llama and alpaca.
Sheep are most severely affected by the disease, Cattle, although infected more frequently than sheep, do not always show signs of the disease.
Outbreaks of bluetongue affect farm incomes through reduced milk yield, sickness, reduced reproductive performance (failed pregnancies, abortion, central nervous system deformities in the calf or lamb) or, in severe cases, the death of adult animals.
Bluetongue virus does not affect people and consumption of meat and milk from infected animals is safe. Bluetongue is a notifiable disease. That means if you suspect an animal is showing signs of disease you must tell the Animal and Plant and Health Agency (APHA) immediately.
Failure to do so is an offence. Current situation
Bluetongue serotype 8 (BTV-8) is currently circulating in France.
Defra has analysed the risk to livestock in the UK and it is currently LOW to reflect the cold weather, wind direction and low likelihood of virus circulation in local midge populations in the UK.
The most likely route of transmission is infected midges being blown from France to the South of England.
The risk from the movement of imported animals has been deemed low at present.
Surveillance of BTV-8 is being carried out in the UK both in midges and bulk milk testing.
In June 2016, a serological survey of bulk milk samples from about 200 randomly picked dairy herds across the Southeast and East of England were tested for antibodies to BTV.
The aim was to ascertain the background level of BTV-seropositive cattle and whether this would be a useful as an early warning system for BTV-8 incursion. Advice for farmers
Government deputy chief vet Simon Hall, said: “We have robust disease surveillance procedures in place and are working closely with the livestock industry to carefully monitor the situation in France where Bluetongue disease control measures are in place.
“Animal keepers should remain vigilant for signs of disease and report any suspicions to their vet and the Animal and Plant Health Agency immediately.
“Livestock keepers should also consider with their vet if vaccination is an option which would benefit their business.” What to do if you suspect disease
If you suspect bluetongue report it immediately to the Animal and Plant Health Agency on 03000 200 301.