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High risk of new bluetongue cases, APHA warns
The majority of cases of BTV-3 in Great Britain have been in cattle.
Midges expected to carry virus from northern Europe.

The government has warned that there is a high probability of new bluetongue cases this year.

The latest qualitative risk assessment, published by the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA), predicts that there is a very high chance of livestock in Great Britain being infected with bluetongue virus serotype 3 (BTV-3) by midges blown over from northern Europe.

Premises in the counties of Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex, Kent and Sussex are considered to be most at risk. The government is actively monitoring the situation and plans to provide free bluetongue tests to keepers in high-risk counties if transmission increases.

Midge activity is higher between April and November, but the timing of any transmission through winborne midges will depend on weather patterns. Midge traps are being used as part of surveillance measures.

The government has also revealed that it is engaging with vaccine manufacturers on the development of a BTV-3 vaccine. A new vaccine has recently received emergency authorisation for use in the Netherlands.

BTV-3 was first detected in Great Britain in November last year following an outbreak in northern Europe. Since then,126 cases have been confirmed – 119 in cattle and seven in sheep. The most recent case was confirmed on 8 March 2024.

David Holdsworth, APHA’s chief executive officer, said: “The Animal Plant Health Agency’s world-leading scientists and vets have been working to provide evidence and modelling to government, to enable effective proactive planning and to prepare for any potential incursion and outbreak in the UK.

“Our field teams stand ready and will continue to work closely with farmers and animal keepers to ensure they are kept up to date and supported during any outbreak.

“I would encourage farmers to make sure they register their livestock and land with APHA, ensure their contact details are updated so we can locate animals in the event of an outbreak, and monitor their animals frequently for clinical signs.”

Bluetongue is a notifiable disease. Suspicion of the disease in animals must be reported to APHA on 03000 200 301 in England, on 03003 038 268 in Wales, and to the local  Field Services Office in Scotland.

Image © Shutterstock

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Reporting service for dead wild birds updated

News Story 1
 The Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) has updated its online reporting service for dead wild birds.

The new version allows those reporting a dead bird to drop a pin on a map when reporting the location. It also includes a wider range of wild bird species groups to select from when describing the bird.

The online service, which helps APHA to monitor the spread of diseases such as avian influenza, can be accessed here

Click here for more...
News Shorts
NI chief vet urges bluetongue vigilance

Northern Ireland's chief veterinary officer (CVO) has urged farmers to be vigilant for signs of bluetongue, after the Animal and Plant Health Agency warned there was a very high probability of further cases in Great Britain.

There have been 126 confirmed cases of bluetongue virus serotype 3 in England since November 2023, with no cases reported in Northern Ireland. The movement of live ruminants from Great Britain to Northern Ireland is currently suspended.

According to the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA), the virus is most likely to enter Northern Ireland through infected animals or germplasm (semen or ova) being imported.

Brian Dooher, Northern Ireland's CVO, said: "Surveillance for this disease within Northern Ireland has been increased to assist with detection at the earliest opportunity which will facilitate more effective control measures."

Farmers should report any suspicions of the disease to their private veterinary practitioner, the DAERA Helpline on 0300 200 7840 or their local DAERA Direct Veterinary Office.