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Free bluetongue tests now available in high-risk counties
The most recent case of BTV-3 in England was confirmed in March 2024.
Livestock keepers can apply for testing before moving or selling animals.

Free bluetongue testing has been made available to livestock keepers in areas of England where there is considered to be a high risk of the virus being introduced.

The tests are free for livestock being moved from high-risk counties to live in other parts of Great Britain and for animals being sold at a market in a high-risk county where there will be buyers from outside the high-risk counties.

The high-risk countries, all along the east coast of England, are Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex, Kent and East Sussex.

Between November 2023 and March 2024, there were 126 confirmed cases of BTV-3 in England. Although there are have been no confirmed cases of the virus since 8 March 2024, there is considered to be a very high chance that bluetongue virus serotype 3 (BTV-3) will be reintroduced to livestock in Great Britain this year by windborne midges from northern Europe.

There is ongoing surveillance of both midges and susceptible animals. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is also currently engaging with vaccine manufacturers about the development of a safe and effective vaccine for BTV-3.

Christine Middlemiss, UK chief veterinary officer, said: “Bluetongue does not pose a threat to human health or food safety, but the disease can impact livestock farms, and cause productivity issues.

“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.

“If you intend to move animals to live out of high-risk counties please take advantage of this free testing as it will help stop the movement of undetected disease.”

Bluetongue is a notifiable disease and any suspicion of it in animals in England must be reported to the Animal and Plant Health Agency on 03000 200 301.

Details about how to apply for free testing can be found here.

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. 

Click here for more...
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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."