September 25, 2018
The U.K.’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 routine post-import testing regime.
The U.K.'s Animal & 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 center in central France, where bluetongue continues to slowly spread, according to a Sept. 24 announcement.
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, 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, APHA said.
Action is being taken to ensure that the risk of the disease's spread 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 that they meet certain conditions designed to reduce disease risk, such as correct vaccination, APHA said.
Following the successful interception of the infected animals, the U.K. remains officially bluetongue free, the risk of the disease remains low and exports are not affected, the announcement said.
Graeme Cooke, deputy chief veterinary officer for the U.K., said, "Bluetongue does not pose a threat to human health or food safety, but the disease impacts farming, causing reduced milk yield in cows and infertility in sheep. This detection is an example of our robust disease surveillance procedures in action but must highlight to farmers the risks which come with bringing animals from disease-affected areas into their herds. Regulations and systems are in place for the benefit of our U.K. livestock industry."
The U.K. government has worked closely with a number of groups to raise awareness of the threat of bluetongue through the Joint Campaign Against Bluetongue. The most recent case of the disease in the U.K. came in 2007, and the U.K. has been officially free from the disease since July 2011.
More information about bluetongue is available here.
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