UNITED KINGDOM, London. The UK’s Deputy Chief Veterinary Officer has urged farmers to remain vigilant for bluetongue virus after the disease was successfully picked up in two cattle imported from France through our routine post-import testing regime.
The Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) and the Pirbright Institute identified the disease in the animals when they were brought to North Yorkshire in England from an assembly centre in Central France, where bluetongue continues to slowly spread.
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. It can reduce milk yield and cause infertility and in the most severe cases is fatal for infected animals. The midges are most active between May and October and not all susceptible animals show immediate signs of contracting the virus.
Action is being taken to ensure the risk of spread of the disease is reduced, with movement restrictions at the affected premises. The two cattle were isolated and have been humanely culled.
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 the successful interception of the infected animals, the UK remains officially bluetongue-free, the risk of the disease remains low and exports are not affected.