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Bluetongue Detected in East Sussex and Hertfordshire

27 August 2008

UK - Defra today announced the detection of two cases of Bluetongue (BTV8) in imported rams, on premises near Lewes, East Sussex, and Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire. Both animals originated from the same premises within the BTV8 Restricted Zone in Central France. These are the first cases of Bluetongue virus positive animals found in the UK this summer.

They were detected as a result of post-import testing carried out by Defra on all Bluetongue susceptible animals arriving from Continental Europe, in addition to checks at the country of origin.  

Protection Zones for BTV8 across the EU are regarded as being “confluent”.  This means that it is legally possible to move susceptible animals from the BTV8 Protection Zone in France to the Protection Zone in England and Wales and vice versa.  It is therefore not unexpected to find infected animals in the Protection Zone.

There is no evidence to suggest that virus is circulating between local midge and animal populations in the local areas.  Full epidemiological investigations are underway.

A mass vaccination campaign against Bluetongue began in late April this year, and approximately 21.5 million doses have so far been made available to farmers as far north as Durham and Lancashire to protect their stock.

Deputy Chief Veterinary Officer, Alick Simmons said.

“Bluetongue has recently been confirmed as circulating this year in the Netherlands and large areas of France, despite vaccination programmes being undertaken.  Similar re-emergence of disease in the UK would also not be unexpected in the coming weeks.

“These cases emphasise the need for farmers to be aware of the risks of importing animals from within Restricted Zones.  This also highlights the importance of vaccination.  It is the only effective tool to protect susceptible animals from Bluetongue. Farmers throughout the Protection Zone should vaccinate as soon as vaccine is available to them. The message remains clear - don’t hesitate, vaccinate.”

TheCattleSite News Desk


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