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Bluetongue restrictions eased
There have been more than 80 cases of BTV-3 since November.
Farmers are asked to remain vigilant.

The Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) has eased some of its Bluetongue virus (BTV) restrictions following a reduction in midge activity.

Infected animals are no longer being culled in cases where test results indicate an older infection and the presence of BTV antibodies. However, infected animals may still be restricted at their current locations and other measures taken to mitigate the spread of the disease.

Restrictions for moving livestock within and into the Kent and Norfolk Temporary Control Zones are also being eased. Live animals will be allowed out of the zones if they meet certain conditions, including testing negative in pre-movement tests.

The change in approach comes as the affected areas enter a seasonally low vector period. Midges, which spread the disease, are no longer feeding, and low temperatures mean that the virus cannot replicate in midges, reducing the risk of transmission further.

Surveillance measures are continuing and cases are still being detected in the existing TCZs. A new case was confirmed at a premises near Reedham in the Norfolk TCZ yesterday (6 February), bringing the total number of cases to 85 since the BTV-3 strain was first identified in England in November.

Christine Middlemiss, chief veterinary officer, said: “These detections are 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.

“We are now in a seasonally low vector period, when midge activity is much lower and there is reduced risk of disease, however I urge farmers to remain vigilant and report any suspicions to APHA.”

Image © Shutterstock

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Charities' XL bully neutering scheme closes

News Story 1
 A scheme that helped owners of XL bully dogs with the cost of neutering has closed to new applications due to high demand.

The scheme, run by the RSPCA, Blue Cross, and Battersea, has helped 1,800 dogs and their owners after XL bullies were banned under the Dangerous Dogs Act.

In England and Wales, owners of XL bully dogs which were over one year old on 31 January 2021 have until 30 June 2024 to get their dog neutered. If a dog was between seven months and 12 months old, it must be neutered by 31 December 2024. If it was under seven months old, owners have until 30 June 2025.

More information can be found on the Defra website. 

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News Shorts
Avian flu cattle outbreak spreads to tenth US state

Cattle in two dairy herds in Iowa have tested positive for highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI), making it the tenth state in the USA to be affected by the ongoing outbreak of the disease in cattle.

Since March 2024, more than 80 herds across the USA have been affected by the virus and three dairy workers have tested positive. Authorities have introduced measures to limit the spread of the virus and farmers have been urged to strengthen their biosecurity protocols.

Mike Naig, Iowa secretary of agriculture, said: "Given the spread of highly pathogenic avian influenza within dairy cattle in many other states, it is not a surprise that we would have a case given the size of our dairy industry in Iowa.

"While lactating dairy cattle appear to recover with supportive care, we know this destructive virus continues to be deadly for poultry."