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Defra sets out plans to control bluetongue spread
The most recent confirmed case of bluetongue in England was on 8 March 2024.
The probability of new cases this year is considered to be very high.

New plans on how to manage any outbreak of bluetongue virus serotype 3 (BTV-3) in England this year have been set out by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

Movement control zones, which were used for earlier cases, are likely to be used again in areas where the disease is identified. The zones will be kept under constant review and modified or withdrawn depending on the spread of the disease.

In advance of any zones being declared, free BTV-3 tests will be available for livestock being moved to live elsewhere in Great Britain from the counties where the risk of the virus is highest: Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex, Kent and East Sussex.

Limited culling of infected animals will also continue to be used to contain the virus. However, if there is evidence that bluetongue is circulating in biting midges in the area, culling will not take place as it will no longer be deemed an effective control measure.

There are currently no plans for a vaccine to be authorised in the immediate future, despite two vaccines being given approval for use in the Netherlands. Defra says that it is continuing to engage with vaccine manufacturers over the development and supply of a safe and effective vaccine.

Since November 2023, there have been 126 cases confirmed in England, with the most recent confirmed on 8 March 2024. A recent risk assessment found that there is a very high probability of the virus being introduced into livestock in England this year by windborne midges from northern Europe.

Chief veterinary officer Christine Middlemiss said: “The Bluetongue Disease Control Framework sets out how we will work to minimise the impact of a potential outbreak of disease, using the latest scientific and veterinary advice to reduce disease transmission as much as possible.

“We know that the likelihood of bluetongue virus entering Great Britain is increasing and so I would urge farmers to remain vigilant and report any suspicions to the Animal and Plant Health Agency.”  

Biosecurity minister Lord Douglas Miller added: “We are actively engaging with vaccine manufacturers and industry about access to a safe and effective BTV-3 vaccine that has undergone thorough due diligence.

“All disease control decisions will be kept under constant review to ensure they remain proportionate and as effective as possible in controlling the spread of the disease.”

The full framework can be read on the Defra website.

Image © Shutterstock

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Special imports digital service set to change

News Story 1
 From Monday, 15 July, Special Import Certificate (SIC) applications will only be accepted via the Veterinary Medicines Directorate's (VMD's) new special imports digital service.

The original online special import scheme will be decommissioned. The VMD says that the new service is easier to use, more secure and reliable, and meets accessibility legislation.

The VMD is urging veterinary surgeons who have not yet signed up for the new service to do so before 15 July. The new digital service can be accessed here

Click here for more...
News Shorts
RCVS course explains concerns process

A free, online course from the RCVS Academy has been launched, designed to clarify RCVS' concerns procedure.

The content will give veterinary surgeons and veterinary nurses a better understanding of the process, and what they can expect if a concern is raised about them. It includes details of common concerns.

The interactive resource has been developed in collaboration with Clare Stringfellow, case manager in the RCVS Professional Conduct Team.

Ms Stringfellow said: "We appreciate that concerns can be very worrying, and we hope that, through this course, we can give vets and nurses a better understanding of the process and how to obtain additional support."

The course can be accessed via the RCVS Academy. Users are encouraged to record their learning for CPD.