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Bluetongue Virus Detected in Kent

Bluetongue does not affect human health or food safety


Bluetongue Virus Detected in Kent
Bluetongue Virus Detected in Kent

The UK’s Chief Veterinary Officer has urged farmers to remain vigilant for bluetongue virus after the disease was found in seven cattle in Kent.


The Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) and the Pirbright Institute identified the first case of the disease in November through Great Britain’s annual bluetongue surveillance programme.


Active surveillance in Kent has now identified a further six cases. A temporary control zone has been put in place around the affected farms, restricting the movement of susceptible animals except under licence. The infected animals have been culled to reduce the risk of onward disease transmission.


Bluetongue does not affect people or food safety. The virus is transmitted by midge bites and affects cows, goats, sheep and other camelids such as llamas. The midges are most active between April and November and not all susceptible animals show immediate, or any, signs of contracting the virus. The impacts on susceptible animals can vary greatly – some show no symptoms or effects at all while for others it can cause productivity issues such as reduced milk yield, while in the most severe cases can be fatal for infected animals.


Through additional surveillance, the Chief Veterinary Officer has today (25 November) confirmed four additional cases of bluetongue virus at two premises in Kent within the temporary control zone. The infected animals will be culled to reduce the risk of onward disease transmission.


Strict rules on the movement of livestock from regions affected by bluetongue are already in place and farmers are reminded that animals imported from these regions must be accompanied by the relevant paperwork to clearly show they meet certain conditions designed to reduce disease risk, such as correct vaccination.


Following confirmation of BTV in a non-imported animal in England, some trading partners may restrict exports of bluetongue susceptible animals or their products. The latest information on availability of individual export health certificates can be found on Gov.uk.


NI and GB ruminants cannot be exported from an GB Assembly Centre to the European Union or moved to Northern Ireland until further notice.


Chief Veterinary Officer Christine Middlemiss said:

“Bluetongue does not pose a threat to human health or food safety, but the disease can impact livestock farms, and cause productivity issues.


“This detection is an example of our robust disease surveillance procedures in action and it is also a clear reminder for farmers that the disease remains a threat, despite coming towards the end of the midge activity season.


“Farmers must remain vigilant and report any suspicions to APHA.”


BTV is a notifiable disease. Suspicion of BTV in animals in England must be reported to the Animal and Plant Health Agency on 03000 200 301


More information about bluetongue is available here.

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