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APHA lifts bluetongue Temporary Control Zones
There have been more than 100 confirmed cases of bluetongue since November.
Surveillance procedures remain in place.

From today (19 February), the Animal Plant and Health Agency (APHA) has lifted the Temporary Control Zones (TCZs) brought in to tackle the spread of bluetongue.

However, APHA says that officials will stay in close contact with livestock keepers within the affected areas in Norfolk, Suffolk and Kent.

Restrictions will remain in place for positive high-risk animals and for premises that were in the TCZs which are yet to be sampled. Surveillance efforts and epidemiological assessments will also continue.

The easing of restrictions comes at a time when the risk of the disease spreading is considered to be low due to a seasonal drop in midge activity.

The Kent TCZ had been in place since November 2023, when a case of bluetongue virus serotype 3 was confirmed in a cow near Canterbury. The Norfolk TCZ was introduced in December and was later expanded to include part of Suffolk. As of today, there have been 112 cases.

Christine Middlemiss, the UK’s chief veterinary officer, said: “We are now in a seasonally low vector period, when midge activity is much lower and there is reduced risk of disease, meaning we can lift the temporary control zones.

“However, our robust disease surveillance procedures continue, and I urge farmers to remain vigilant and report any suspicions to APHA.”

Aled Edwards, APHA’s head of field delivery England, added: “APHA teams will continue to work closely with farmers to ensure that keepers and businesses are kept up to date, and that questions and concerns are addressed promptly.”

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."