UK farmers warned to remain vigilant.
A new strain of bluetongue virus (BTV-3) is quickly spreading between farms in the Netherlands, raising fears that it could reach the UK.
In response, Ruminant Health and Welfare (RH&W) has led a series of emergency meetings in the past week. More than 40 stakeholders and representatives from the farming industry across the UK have taken part in the discussions.
Farmers are being urged to source animals from Europe responsbily, proritise biosecurity, monitor livestock closely and report any signs of the disease.
Since first being identified in the Netherlands in early September, the BTV-3 strain has spread to more than 700 farms in the country. A new case has also recently been reported in Belgium.
Great Britain last experienced a major outbreak of bluetongue in 2007.
Dr Joseph Henry, president of the Sheep Veterinary Society and member of RH&W’s steering group, said: “What we are advising is three-fold. Farmers need to beware when buying animals in, especially from Europe, take action to report any signs of the disease, and at all times, remain vigilant.”
Another member of the RH&W steering group, Cat Mclaughlin, chief animal health and welfare advisor for the National Farmers' Union, added: “Currently, there are no reports of the new strain in the UK. But it is felt that due to the nature of bluetongue’s ability to spread via infected midges, and current warm weather conditions, the risk of it reaching the UK is increasing, so we must adhere to advice and do all we can to keep it out.”
Bluetongue is a notifiable disease. Anyone suspecting a case must report it to the Animal and Plant Health Agency.
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